Have we forgotten how to read slowly?
Are we now so trained by our busyness and 140 character posts to read everything so quickly that we have lost the ability to read deeply, with presence and openness to juicy words that we can savour?
For the past few weeks I have been working on a piece of nature writing that I wanted to enter into a competition just for the experience. I decided it was time to seek the wise counsel of a writing friend, someone I could trust for their clarity of vision and capacity for honest words.
‘I don’t think l like it,’ he says after the first read. ‘The alternating between personal biography and philosophy doesn’t work for me.
Hmm, I think, surely biography is philosophy, and philosophy is biography if we are living authentically.
I am going to read it again he promises.
Half an hour later he texts: I’m experiencing it in a new way!
On the third read, he calls. ‘It’s a lovely piece of writing. When I understood that I needed to slow down and really be in the piece it became a different thing altogether.’
Ludic reading is a term coined by Victor Nell, in his book Lost in a Book: the psychology of reading for pleasure. He says ludic reading is ‘a name for that trancelike state that readers enter when consuming books for pleasure.’
I doubt that the competition judge will have the time to read my entry three times or from a space of ludicity when there is likely to be thousands of entries, but that does not concern me. The real reason one enters a competition is to learn something about the self and in the process, the writing way. In reflection, I also learnt how important it is to slow down and invite the reader to do the same.
Who knows what jewels are hidden among the words we read or write when we take the time to let them shine? Stay with your words, and…create…the…spaces…within – spaces that have nothing to do with 140 characters!