Jan 3, 2010
photo credit: Thoth, God of Knowledge
They say you are what you eat. I think I must agree with the proverbial all-knowing they. If you listened to your high school biology teacher closely enough, you would learn that when we digest our food, our bodies would then break these into tiny little bits that somehow find their way into all sorts of cells inside our bodies.
And if you believe in the GIGO concept–that is, garbage in, garbage out–you’d agree with me that if you eat mostly junk, then you’re bound to be made of junk sooner or later. If you usually have a well balanced diet, then you’d most probably have a well-balanced body, as well.
Perhaps the same could be said about writing. What comes in would also influence what comes out. The better the things that you read, the better you’re able to write. Think of it this way: the material you read would ultimately influence your ideas, your writing style, and even your way of thinking. Therefore, reading good stuff would be one good way of being a better writer.
But an even more important idea is this: what you read ultimately finds it way inside your psyche. Try reading some really well-written fiction. Before you know it, you would be identifying with the protagonist, and you’re somehow living his adventures (or lack, thereof) in your head. And for some time what, or how, you think, act and write would be influenced, or at least affected, by this affinity.
Does this mean we have to be thoroughly selective of what we read, though? I don’t think so. This doesn’t mean we have to be snobbish about what we read. There’s as much room for digesting mediocre writing as there is for the good stuff. But what I think is important is one’s judgement and ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Going back to our food analogy, I think what’s important is learning what tastes good from what tastes bad, and deciding on putting more of the yummy treats on your plate. Reading is about learning, after all.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that bad-tasting food is not good for your body. But that’s another story.