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Saturday, 17 July 2010

with a piece of blue raddle

"If forced to choose only one, what would you choose? Reading or writing?" (This was a question I remember being posed by Fiona Farrell ( NZ writer) at a talk she gave here in Dunedin at a long-ago Readers and Writers Week). 

At times like now when I have so much writing on my plate, it's limiting any time I have to read. At the moment, to read in my 'off' times feels too much like work. It's a dilemma because in order to write you have to read, and without writers, there'd be no readers and without readers - why write? Hmmm.

Forced, I'd choose writing. I have gone into a bookshop with money to spend on a book and instead have come away not with reading material, but writing material - pens and paper and books that beg to be written in. I can't resist the enticement of a blank page and the instruments with which to de-blank. Or something like that. My granddaughter is an avid reader - as is my mother, her mother and her mother before her ... as was my father's father. As is my sister. As is my daughter. And as I used to be. Until I started writing instead ...

My grandfather, William McKenzie, was apparently one of Orepuki's very, very small library's most frequent users. (I remember the library as a child. The sweeest, tiniest, wooden building with three steps up to the front door and stacked with the smell of books - one of the  most wonderful smells in the world). Grandpa used to make a small mark with a piece of blue raddle on the bottom of page 65 of every book he read. It was his check as to whether or not he'd read the book before. 

Thankfully there is no need to have to choose, but if there were, which would you choose - reading or writing?


Catherine said...

I think I might have to choose reading, I have been an avid reader since the age of three and I can't imagine giving it up.
Although I have lots more writing to do yet. Not necessarily poetry, but I can't bear the thought of all my meticulous family history research not being set down on paper to be passed on.

Joan said...

Writing or reading.. if I could only choose one? Maybe the age I am now where i love to write ..for myself..I feel compelled to make marks ..but imagine life without reading! I cannot.
I love the picture of your grandfather marking the page with a fat blue straddle.
Love your blog. Thank you. One day reading will be yours again. Fret not.

Joan said...

PS.. by the look of my spelling above.. I'd better stick to reading. I doesn't look as though I can "straddle" the two!!

Anonymous said...

Reading! I find writing quite torturous at times :-)

Anne S said...

Reading wins hands down with me. I did once aspire to be a writer, but have realised it's not for me. I do enjoy writing my blogs though, but creative writing is not something I have an interest in.

Writers need readers, just as much as readers need writers.

BarbaraS said...

That's a tough one. When I write, I don't read. When I read, I don't write. But I like both equally. Agh!

Becky Willis Motew said...

I have to go with reading. I couldn't live without reading. I went many years without writing and I suppose I could again.

Good question.

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Catherine - It seems reading wins hands down for everyone (except me!)

Joan - Oh and except for Joan - yay! Another writing person ... altho' I know we'd both agree that reading has to go hand-in hand. A chicken and egg question really.

artandmylife - But without your wonderful writing where would the readers be?? Left without an artandmylife perspective ... bereft!

Anne - Your last line says it all!

Barabara - That's me too actually! But if forced - I'd write.

Becky - I like that you read ... but I want you not to go years without writing, because I love your writing.

richardg said...

It's reading for me too,partly because I don't have your writing ability but mainly for the wonderful escapism a good book or poem gives.Definitely my favourite night of each month is our local book club.I loved the story of your grandfather with the blue raddle,was he a sheep farmer like myself?

Agnes said...

I would have to go with reading...

Lydia said...

Kay, your response only proves how unique you are and how writing is cellular with you.

I would answer "reading"... but I think I'd be an outlaw and somehow sneak in writing!


'how this all harbours light'