Do we become what we read?

13 Feb

A recent blog post was titled ‘What are you writing?’  Seemed simple to me, but a good friend who usually proofs these things for me was in a hurry and mis-read the title, seeing it as ‘You are what you write.’

Oh, dear. What a can of worms that would open, right?  If that were true? ARE we what we write? I certainly hope not. I DO hope it’s only that some of us have more active and inventive imaginations than others of us.

For instance, the above mentioned person says:  I write historical romantic fiction, and yes, that’s me to a T. I wallow in the past and am at my happiest writing about it. I become my own heroines and through them I live all the things I’d long to experience, with the sort of hero I wish we had around now.

Oh, yeah! That’s me, too, although those words are not mine. But I can absolutely identify with them.

So, then, is the person who writes techno-thrillers with automatic weapons and so forth (on every page!) really a super-violent person underneath what might be a Mr. Milquetoast exterior? Is that person really dreaming of living in an alternate world where he/she is KING of the world? Probably not. At least I hope not!

What about those persons who write primarily for children? Do they wish they were still or could once again somehow be a child?

I rather think not in either case. I prefer to think that each of these authors is really a sensible, talented and creative person who can easily transport us by the value of their words to a far distant place that we might not ever have considered visiting – not even for a split second!

And what about science fiction? Now, there I can see a possibility. A century ago there were explorers a-plenty. Unfortunately these days, not so much.  However, not everything has yet been discovered or every place unveiled in front of the world. But, to be sure, there are fewer and fewer of these still secret places left any more. In the words of Star Trek:  ‘To boldly go where no man has gone before?’

On the other hand, I can readily believe that a person totally dedicated to historical settings (especially the genteel side of history) might wish very much to inhabit a less pushy place in the world. One where there was still some semblance of civility and manners – else why would PBS’s Downton Abbey be so popular. Or for that matter, any of the books of Jane Austen. Underneath the sweetness, she does have some good snark going, or haven’t you noticed?

There are authors who write in more than one genre. Hmmm. Wonder what a psychiatrist would make of that one? That old proverb probably says it better than I can: Variety is the spice of life.  Well, maybe.

I can only add that my imagination runs overtime, but generally in the same old areas that it’s occupied for the last several decades. Occasionally (through a book, of course!) I am intrigued by a new setting. But then, I wander backwards again. At times, I stumble over something new and/or different, and I mumble: Now why didn’t I think of that?

But at least I found that book. And that’s good. I still have my boundaries, and you have yours, and that’s good, too. The terrific variety of books available now,  primarily because of self-publishing and Print-on-Demand, is a great service to man-and womankind.  Someone else once said: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and that’s very true, too. So, just grab another book and keep on learning. And if you’re a writer, too, then write something! That’s the answer, after all.  Nothing happens until someone writes something!

Well, what are you waiting for?  WRITE!!!

Please feel free to pass this along to your writing pals. And, if you have questions or comments, please write to me at:


One Response to “Do we become what we read?”

  1. Bob Birch February 13, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    I love writing complicated sci fi and mystery stories (with an erotic romance flavor) but I think I’m running out of ideas. Yes, I do identify with my characters and have often claimed that I only start a novel and my characters tell me where to go with it and how to finish it.

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