Writing for a World of Non-Readers

Andie and I talk a lot about writing. We share the gift, we hone the skill, and we keep being inspired to write more, and more creatively. I’m a baby of the late 60’s and 70’s, Andie is twenty years older, so we both come from a generation of readers. Though we grew up in different cities at different times. amid different cultures, one thing, among the many things, we have in common, is that we grew up reading books.

When I was six months old, my mother bought me a few sets of encyclopedias, classic fiction and non-fiction compilations, and a few sets of books on my African-American culture. We never talked about whether or not she bought this massive collection to manifest a child who loved to read, or if she bought the books because her intuition told her that she had already given birth to one. The “why” really doesn’t matter. I’m simply grateful that I grew up in a home with books.

I was a veracious reader from the time I was eight years old. Poe was my favorite author and poet by the time I was ten. Books are what exposed me to worlds beyond my own, realities I would otherwise know nothing about. Books were my ticket  around the world, my entrance into secret societies and parallel universes. I know that it was reading that played a huge part in my love for writing. Reading and writing both, helped a shy introverted little girl, to know the experience of telling her own story.

As professional writers, who write for money, which pays our bills and occasionally enables us to buy something we really want, we are making new discoveries. One of those discoveries is that a lot of people don’t like to read.

When a part of your career is writing to suit others requests, Andie and I find ourselves as “throwbacks” in a way. We realize that we need to shorten our paragraphs for the “internet mind” and short attention spans that have bloomed out of the last three decades. We realize that we must be relevant to people and cultures that surf the web daily, those who want stories and information, that is disseminated within a couple of minutes.

We know that there are still others like us, those who cherish reading in-depth articles, and involving themselves in detailed story-telling. We know that there are those, who like us, know about the history and tradition of the griots, who sat in circles inside of communities, creating and sharing stories that actually meant something to the listeners.

But unfortunately, we seem to be the minority these days. And it’s so tough to be a writer in a world that doesn’t cherish reading. Stories are meant to be read. Sure, our stories do help us to release that wound-up kundalini snake of creativity, but we also crave an audience. Whether that audience is made up of a million or just one who simply derives ecstasy from the written word; we crave them.

And as much as we stay tuned to the modern world, all writers want to believe that somewhere, someone is curled up with their book, Nooks, Kindles, and laptops, reading their work. It doesn’t matter how many tablets, phablets, or smartphones and smart watches take over the universe, writers want to be read.