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Annotation

  • Posted on February 5, 2017 at 10:58 am
This post was meant to go up on the first Wednesday of the month, for Insecure Writer’s Support group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG is a monthly bloghop where writers can share their fears, doubts and insecurities. The support from this group has been invaluable for my growth as a writer, and I don’t doubt it will be for you too!
You’re welcome to join. All you have to do is click here to sign up, or click the nice little picture below too!
Unfortunately, I had an experience that I needed to share with IWSG before then, and so this one got pushed back a bit. But hey, who says I can’t plug the group twice in one month, hm?

The question for this month was: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
To answer this question, I have to quantify what I was like as a reader before I wrote.

The honest answer is, voracious. But only of things that pertained to my interests.

Now, however, I’m much less voracious. Reading has been a bit of a challenge for me since my ADHD has recently taken a much worse turn. Reading properly has causes my mind to wander, and my focus to scatter. It makes it painful, especially for someone who used to use the entire library as a proving ground.

Audiobooks have become my bread and butter. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of writing books on audiobook, so I have to force myself into listening to books for their metre, their cadence, the way they put together words, and the way plot converges. I enjoy the books the same way anyone does, I suppose, by reading them this way, but I also find that I don’t learn much unless I put my all into actually studying the book.

Since I became a writer, however, I’ve been considering something that I never really thought about doing before. Marking up books. Annotating them, so that I can see what exactly it is I’m working with, how they’re put together and what I can do to emulate them. I have yet to actually do this, only because I still haven’t gotten over the idea that marking up books is somehow sacrilegious.

For those who don’t know what annotation is, the definition on dictionary.com is a critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text. Marking up a text with notes on grammar, cadence, meaning, theme, and plot.  This allows you to study how the text is put together, and how the author made their decisions about word placement and usage. This learning exercise was something I learned in my recent Introduction to Literature class. Although I’m still not that great at it…

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’m picking my books more carefully. I find myself being disappointed in books a lot more often, thinking ‘they could have done this instead’, or ‘this scene doesn’t work the right way’. So honestly, it’s a bit difficult being a reader and a writer at the same time. If only I could turn one off and keep the other.

In the end, the thing I’ve learned the most is to read with intent. Because honestly, when one intends to learn from what one is doing, one will learn, no matter what you read. I challenge you, go out and annotate something! If you’re feeling exceptionally frisky, try annotating My Immortal. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

 

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