by Kelly Baugh
The Grand Poobah of writing Stephen King says, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
The sign of a really serious reader is being part of a book club, especially those invitation only ones. I’m in a pretty prestigious group at the moment. Every Tuesday and Thursday I meet for an hour to discuss the finer points of literature with the Twin Peaks’ 3rd grade reading group. It’s the best book club I ever joined.
First off, I never leave one of our meetings without having someone compliment my shoes or my hair. There’s none of that Keeping Up with the Joneses attitude with this gang. Also, no one tries to impress each other with pretentious language or literary terms.
Third graders cut straight to the chase:
- “This book is really boring. It’s spending too much time on details I don’t care about.”
- “I’m getting tired of [the main character] making all these stupid choices. Why doesn’t she just use her brain!”
- “I don’t like how this book keeps changing who tells the story. It’s confusing.”
On the flip side they’re effusive in their recognition of a great story. In fact they’ll probably describe it to you in great detail, their eyes sparkling with excitement of a new-found literary treasure.
And these kids know what they’re talking about because who spends more time writing than elementary students? No one. Everything, even math problems these days, requires that they write several complete sentences to express their opinion (and there’s no Facebook or Pinterest to distract them from getting their work done). With the exception of recess, lunch and PE, they are writing machines.
Forget Oprah’s Book Club, I’d like to have one of my books endorsed by these 9 and 10 year olds. They have great taste, give insightful critiques and don’t let an author get away with lazy writing. But they will give you a hug on your way out the door.
My advice is, go out and join a school reading group today, especially if you’re an author. It’ll keep you grounded and give you bucket loads of inspiration.