Writing is reading. Reading is writing. They exist in a state of equality in the eyes of physics and biology and in every reality. To read is to actively participate with the text. To write is to actively read one's own words. To read and write is to allow the light within to shine, to not put the light under the bushel basket, to sense the possibilities of thoughts.
These are intimate activities, as personal as anything can be, amongst the deepest of mental events.
To be a good reader is the highest of joys. We take it very seriously, the life's blood of our intelligence.
A great teacher shows you how to read. In my case that teacher then moves on, to do a stint teaching at a humbler institution. In that absence a reader falls, eventually, in that absence, into neglect. Treated so, the reader takes things personally when the level of teaching is not the same, when there is no feedback.
It's the very same feeling as that of finding yourself rejected by a loved one, when your own readership is glossed over, neglected, unattended. You can feel offended, betrayed, ignored, short-shrifted, not given your fair rights. Who wants rejection? When it begins to emerge as a pattern, well, you might tend to take it personally.
After the experience then I really had to write, just to bring my mind back to even keel about my readership, to restore a basic confidence that had been rattled. I would have already needed to write anyway. And now I had the material. Which makes me wonder if indeed things don't happen for good reason, to fulfill some kind of a plan. And in a way, all stories lead back to an original one, just your own personal version must be told.
Psychologically, I went out into the world to find company amongst those who would not reject me, drinkers in a bar, who occasionally talked about books and told stories. (How can the naturally evolved human creature put up with the modern version of himself without wine anyway?) Drinking wine in good circumstances is a lot like reading, maybe even is reading. Rightly is it part of bardic tradition, part of the sacrament, a ritual of daily health. It surprises one not that the people who strongly write, going off to do it like it is the rule rather than the exception, just a part of nature, like to let their brains indulge in it at the end of the day, leading one to believe that the events it triggers happen in the same parts of the brain, strengthening, rather than weakening, increasing the power and the breadth rather than limiting. (Whereas the television often does nothing but cut us off, like a needy person talking about their own problems when we have work to do.) And maybe it is lonely enough at the top of the game that wine is a solace, a medicine, as there are not enough egoless people to gently converse with a great writer without stuff coming up. To some minds, even drinking a glass of wine alone is not the worst thing. It eases, insulates one, as Joseph Mitchell writes, against the loneliness of old age.
Reading and writing is, in good hands, in your own, a spiritual activity. Jesus the savior is an excellent reader, an active reader, taking texts, applying them, letting events be part of the text. You cannot just 'read' spiritual texts (in a shallow way), but bring them alive, make them personal and engaging.
It is no coincidence that one of the great disagreements in spiritual literature is over the reading of texts, the difference between how the individual, Jesus, versus the strict narrow sealed over traditionalists. The imaginative full reading and the strict law. We know the rest of the story.
But of course, I'd taken a hit, bad grades, my own ability and desire to write a paper, even what I was good at, at what I most enjoyed and wished for more of, taken from me. It was a big thing psychologically, a great discouragement. It caused me to turn away from the life of education, away to the streets.
And then I did yoga, and I began to let the life breath flow back into me, and my confidence and a sense of purpose, even as I worked on it all, was gradually restored. It took a long time.
Of course, not everyone takes the wordy process so seriously. After all, they might say, what's the point of being an English major, a good reader, in today's world, in the present economy.
A person very close and dear to me to bring a meaning to her life went back to school to get a degree in reading education, and she wrote a great book about it. That person, in tune with herself.