On Reading

It seems only fair that, being a writer, I should write something about reading, as writing is meant to be read. I write because things are within me that I desire to get out. The “getting them out” provides a relief and satisfaction to me. And, after that, I desire to have them read by others. I don’t particularly care for praise. There is a momentary “feel-good” moment, but it is incredibly short. Likewise, I care not much for criticism. Obviously, I do not care for criticism that I feel is unwarranted. And I may read a criticism and say the critic has a point, and I may or may not decide to adapt based on the criticism. But the opinions of others do not matter very much to me as a writer. I do not write to be read. I write to write. I write for me. Readers only matter to me to the extent that I receive payment from them. Money from the reader is the best satisfaction that the reader can give me. And I am not willing to compromise on my personal satisfaction of a completed piece of writing to try to make the writing more popular to attempt to make more money from the piece. The piece will be written in a way that I enjoy, and then it will be attempted to be sold, regardless of how many are ultimately sold.

So considering my “disdain” for readers, how do I feel about myself as a reader? Well, for one, I am far from an avid reader. Perhaps it is because I am “stupid” (I don’t really think so), but I do not read that much. I spend more time consuming music or internet videos than writing. And I am perfectly content with doing so. I’ll miss out on “everything” and be perfectly content with that. I’m content with my current “entertainment-consumption”.

The only exception to this comes in the form of reading non-fiction: in particular, pieces about economic theory. I am interested in economic theory because, for one, I believe that it will help me acquire more financial resources, and two, I have a natural desire to try to understand “how the world works”. I have a desire to learn about money, jobs, and why it all takes place: why it all happens. And after discovering that this subject was called “economics”, I began studying economics, and economics (mainly economic theory, at the moment), takes up most of my “reading time”.

I’ve discussed my childhood experiences with reading several times, and how I grew to dislike it because of school. And I’ve also discussed my lazy nature. But how do I feel about fiction? How do I feel about subjects that aren’t related to economics?

For one, the problem that I’ve had with fiction is that I’ve never been able to understand the motivations of the writer. Even as a child, this fact bugged me. When we were required to go to the library to check out books to read, I could only think Why did this writer write this? Why does this book exist?”, and I couldn’t concentrate on what was actually within the pages, because I could only think of that question. That’s how my mind works: I get stuck on “whys”, particularly philosophical ones, and I can’t concentrate on anything else until I get a satisfactory answer for the question. I am perfectly content with this. It’s simply in my nature to be this way, and I enjoy it.

I suppose that I never started to understand “why” writers write until I began to write myself. I had a desire to write a fictional story about a serial killer, and I did. Then, I published it, and it didn’t sell well, while I accumulated some negative reviews in the process. (Around this time is when I started to become interested in economics as well). I kind of just let everything “sit there”, without making changes to the pieces (I wrote a couple of more shortly after this, with a limited number of mixed reviews; mainly negative, however), and waited to see what would happen. And, as I should have expected, nothing much did. But I’ve learned a lot through the experience, and I continue to learn in my “creative business” journey: mainly, through observation and self-reflection, rather than a direct attempt from someone to “teach me”.

I enjoyed writing when I was a kid, and mainly only did so when I was required to in school. But I loved it when I started it. It was a very enjoyable experience, and I wasn’t that bad at it. But it took me many years to start writing again after elementary school. The first time I ever wrote fiction was either in 2000 or 2001 while in elementary school. I do not remember the prompt, but it was something about being visited by aliens in my backyard, and being scared shitless by seeing them through the window. It was very vivid to me. It was alive, and I put it down on paper. I didn’t have enough room to finish the story. All of the teachers were very impressed. I knew that being a writer was within me.

But later on (I can’t quite remember how much later on; maybe months, maybe years), I tried to either rewrite or expand upon that initial alien idea, and I couldn’t (I didn’t have my initial writing in front of me, but that wasn’t the problem). I don’t think my imagination was developed enough (it’s an odd thing to say that a child’s imagination isn’t developed enough, as, typically, a child’s imagination is as vivid as any human’s can be, with imagination dwindling as one gets older). Or perhaps the problem was one of organization. I can remember not knowing how to start the story. So I sat there, and sat there, and sat there. Wrote some shit down, and didn’t know where to go with it. I liked what I had written, but I had no idea what to do with it. And I think I cried. I think I was sad about that. I think I hated it, and crumpled up the paper and threw it away. I can’t quite remember, but I know that I was angry and sad that I couldn’t elaborate anymore on what I had written. And I didn’t start writing any other piece of fiction until either 2011 or 2012.

When I started writing again, it was because I was bored. I had no job (as I didn’t understand why I needed one; this was when I started studying economics, to learn what was happening in the world before I just jumped into it (I try to do that, but I also have a tendency to jump into things when I don’t know what I’m doing, so my decision-making process is inconsistent, to say the least. Depends on how badly I want or don’t want to do whatever it is)). I had been playing sports video games for years, and I was doing the same right before I started writing “Torture”. It was NHL 2K7. (You can very clearly see some influences in the beginning of the story). Madden 2005 was the first sports game that I became obsessed with. I had played a few before then (Triple Play 98, MLB Slugfest 2003 and World Cup 98 were some of my favorites before then), but Madden became a new type of obsession. I played and played and played. And I branched out to other sports as well. I played NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL sports games, and tried to find a way to make them “equal” to one another (I guess a type of OCD, but maybe not). My home state of North Carolina didn’t have a baseball team, and having franchises as the “Charlotte Bobcats” (as they were at the time), “Carolina Panthers”, “Carolina Hurricanes”, and “Atlanta Braves” bugged me (even the “Charlotte” and “Carolina” difference bugged me). As I said, maybe it was obsessive-compulsive disorder. But it bugged me. I’d play one NFL game, 5 NBA games, 5 NHL games, and 10 MLB games, to try to get all of the seasons to finish in order. I also started separate files so that I could play as different “areas” (Detroit, Minnesota, etc.). I only remember finishing a few seasons, and I didn’t feel satisfied once they were over. The first season that I finished was a Pittsburgh Steelers season. I believe the next that I finished was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers season. I finished a few more after that, but I would always end up deleting the files before I finished the seasons. It wasn’t satisfying to me, for some reason. Later, I tried to start a spreadsheet to keep track of the stats from season to season for the different sports, but eventually, it felt pointless to me. Finally, one day while playing NHL 2K7, I thought “Oh yeah. I used to like to write. Let’s do that again.”

I always start writing when I’m at my most bored. I start creating things myself when no one else’s “creations” are satisfying me at the moment. I enjoy watching Youtube videos (mainly of people playing video games) because I enjoy observing the different personalities of the people playing the games (I also enjoy watching the games as well). I enjoy the fact that many of the people that I watch have made playing video games on Youtube their fulltime job (of course, I’m trying to get in on that action as well, as is everyone else). I enjoy the jokes that they tell (if you’re new to the medium, you just play a game and you talk: make comments about the game, tell jokes, goof off with friends, etc.). And I enjoy the friendship dynamics between the players. I can’t really explain it that well. All I can say is that if you don’t understand the appeal of it, try watching a few, and if it isn’t “clicking” with you, watch a few more (because there’s probably many out there that you won’t like, as so many people are doing it at the moment). But keep looking until you find that person that just “clicks” with you. Watching people play video games on Youtube is an incredibly social experience: very light-hearted and entertaining to me. But when I’m not watching Youtube videos, I’m writing jokes on Twitter.

Those two things occupy the majority of my time. (Oh yeah, and listening to music while I write jokes). I do not read that much fiction. When I watch Youtube videos, I try to figure out how I can relate the success that the Youtuber has achieved to myself. What about this Youtuber has made him successful, and what am I willing to do that relates us together so that I can attempt to attain his level of success? (I also enjoy laughing at the entertainment that they provide). But I watch the Youtube videos, and try to apply something to myself from them, to try to figure out what makes them successful, and how I can adopt that into my personality.

I don’t feel that way about reading. I think that, intrinsically, I know that I will never be as good as many of “the best” writers out there. And that’s ok with me. I feel like I have more potential as a Youtuber than as a writer, because Youtube as a business model is, in my opinion, easier. The visual media is easier to create than the written word (at least in some ways; sometimes, it’s the opposite, particularly when you get into software editing effects). Also, writing just requires a lot more thinking to me. A lot more patience. I’m not that patient, and I do enough thinking as it is. I don’t need to write down everything that I think (you’ll probably think this if you follow me on Twitter). I spend a lot of time just thinking. Also, I think that I have more potential as a “Youtuber” as opposed to a writer because many people are like me, and just don’t have the patience to read, and would rather watch a flashing screen. (As I said, maybe I’m just an idiot for not reading, but I don’t think I’m as stupid as some people would think I am based on how much I’ve said that I do not enjoy reading).

I feel like I have more potential as an “internet entertainer” (an “internetainer”, if you will) than as a fiction writer. The former is easier to do than the latter (at least as far as the product you are creating is concerned), and takes much less time to do so. It takes much less time to write a string of jokes on the internet than it does to begin writing a new piece of fiction, or continuing an old one, or editing, etc. And my attempt is to write jokes on the internet consistently enough so that people want to keep up with them, and then, they are introduced to the other things that I have on the internet: particularly, the Youtube channel (and, to a smaller extent, the fiction (“smaller” at least for now: we’ll see which direction things go in in the future)). The reason that I spend so much time on these things is that I want to try to make a little bit of money through the Youtube channel, and gaining online attention through jokes is how I’m going to do it.

And this takes a lot of time. Watching the videos of others, making my own, and writing jokes takes up the majority of my time. And I’m ok with that. As I said, my reading interests are narrow, and writing is an exhausting process for me, so I take long breaks from it. But I feel like I’m working towards something: I’m working towards gaining an “online following”, and working towards getting paid for it. That’s what I feel like. And I have future plans for videos, pieces of fiction, etc. The point is trying to sell them (trying to sell the pieces of fiction, and gaining attention on the Youtube channel to get paid through Adsense). I work on them because I have a goal in mind (plus I just enjoy doing them).

With reading, I feel like there is no end goal (as opposed to the reading of non-fiction pieces about economics). To me, reading a piece of fiction isn’t going to help me achieve my goals. Now, you may be saying “Cody, won’t reading good pieces of fiction help you become a better writer?” Well, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt. But 1) I’ve already stated how I feel about reading, and 2) I want to feel extremely independent in my writing. I don’t want to feel “influenced” by others. I want my voice to be my own, and I’m not looking to “get better” by reading the works of others. I do not care about that. I am confident that I will become a better writer through practice. I don’t want a “teacher”. I want this to be about my own personal experience with writing, and considering that I do not enjoy reading fiction that much, I will not do it. And I do not wish to read simply as a way to make my own writing better. Even if I’m “wrong” (whatever that means), this is what I’m going to do.

And I know that many of you avid readers will think I’m crazy. But this is how I wish to spend my time. And this is how I’m going to do it. I understand that many of you like to spend most of your time reading. Do what you want. And I’m going to do what I want.

And I accept the fact that, more than likely, everything you write is going to be better than everything I write.

…But I’m still going to do it.

I’ll see you on the marketplace.


Excerpts from my fiction.

My poetry.


9 thoughts on “On Reading

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