I was browsing Reddit to kill some time and came by a post talking about the discouragement and embarrassment of slow reading. This lead me to think about my own journey as a writer and a reader, as I used to be an extremely poor reader back in grade school. I started pondering: How come I still became a writer and avid reader despite the discouragement and embarrassment of it all?
While I entirely understand that we as humans tend to start from different places in life and talents, I still think we can all get to at least an acceptable level in our journeys, should we put our minds to it. That being said, I also subscribe to my בעלי’s thought, that we all have a limit in the things we can do, and that some people have greater potential in some things and others in other things. This means that we are by no means equal in the lottery of life.
Yet, the main point of all this seems to be to figure out how to first accept our possible limits and then to try and progress towards the upper level of those limits, to do the best with what we have. How does this relate to the whole reading speed thing on Reddit or my life whatsoever?
Well, the user on Reddit was quite downtrodden about their reading speed and was wondering how they might overcome the feelings and thoughts that haunted them regarding the matter. They were worried that their methods were somehow less, that they themselves would be lesser because of it.
I will tell all the slow readers of the world what I told this person:
Accept yourself, and how you are now, no matter how hard it may be. If you want to do something, truly do it, it does you no service to be hung up on your weaknesses, to dwell on them. Try to focus more on the joy of it all, the aspirations you may have, and the reading speed will follow eventually. It is much like a muscle, in my opinion, and as such it requires effort and practice. Some people are faster than others, but in the end, we are just what we need to be so we could be, well, our unique selves.
The Failing read-tests
Talking about my own story, I used to be a terrible reader indeed. We had these tests in grade school, where one by one we were summoned to the hall to read for the teacher. I was terrified of those moments, and I think the only grace in it was that I did not have to read for the whole class, albeit that popular method of torture was also in use in the lessons.
The teacher would then give me a piece of paper with a sort of story in it, probably designed to test retainment. And boy, I retained none of it. I still remember just sitting there, looking at the paper, hearing my voice but seeing nothing. Completely and utterly dissociated from the situation. And then she asked what the text was about. I could not give her a proper answer. Like, maybe there was an animal in it?
Of course, this meant calls to my parents due to my lack of ability, as well as suggesting that I needed to be put in a special tutoring class. The legends tell me my father was not very happy and chewed them out to the point that they had to let me be in the normal class.
The nightly reading and my first story
Despite all this, and the monitoring of me doing my homework, I figured out at some point that I really liked reading. And later on, I realized I loved writing more than reading.
I remember all the nights I spent sneakily flipping through the pages in my room to the early hours, sinking into the stories of other people’s creations on the white pages. I read mountains of books that I got from the libraries around me, packing my bag so full it was bursting from the seams and pure murder on my shoulders.
And when I got my first Harry Potter -book, The prisoner of Azkaban, I stayed up all night, dreamt about dementors, and wrote my first ever fanfic about Christmas in the closet under the stairs. I have no idea what it was like, but I remember the utter joy and exhilaration as I looked down at the first story I ever wrote.
After that, I went from having learned to write and read into a devouring monster of literature, from Goosebumps of less than 100 pages to colossal 1000-page bricks like Cleopatra. I went from making cute little essay-length stories to not being able to control them at all… I mean, in upper-grade school people were asked to write something and then present it. I literally wrote a novella, made my artistically gifted friend draw a cover for it, and almost killed my class with boredom by making them sit through an extremely long presentation. I continued this tradition in high school by reading Stephen Kings Dome as my chosen book review, as well as writing a ten-page story for my creative writing course that people had just picked since it was supposedly easy.
Where there is no time or space, make it
When it comes to the time to read, it is a matter of making time for it. Much like everything in life, if you want to do something badly enough, you will find time for it no matter what. I may have given my book collection away, but I moved into the digital realm. My library is all over the internet and most of all Kindle now! I may also have left the beautiful novels aside, but I have my own stories and worlds to work on. And I read a ton of psychology, philosophy, wifery, you know, all the baffling, non-fiction stuff.
As to when I read, well, I read when I wait for my appointments or anything else. I read in the bathroom. I read while cooking, to the annoyance of my בעלי since sometimes it results in slightly over-salted food. And since it’s all in my phone now I can do that anywhere, anytime, conveniently! For some reason I can’t be dealing with audiobooks, as I seem to prefer my own voice, be it internal or external, reading for me instead of someone else.
It is funny, now that I think of it. My aspirations as a young, blue-eyed fawn were to write something that even those who don’t relate to text, and those who just loathe it, would find so compelling that they would be able to finish it and maybe would want more. And despite all the hurdles and terrible reading skills and comments, that flame is still somehow shining bright.