Over the last week I have bee devouring reading material. I suspect it isn't so much that I've become a voracious reader, but that my material has been shorter and easier to snack upon.
I've done away with the first 9 volumes of the Claymore manga. While I enjoyed the anime, the last 3 episodes were terribly unsatisfying. It happened near the end of the War in the North arc -- exactly where it diverged from a what had been a faithful following of the manga. Sadly, my loaned supply of books was exhausted in just four nights. I had also done away with volume 5 of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days and Multiple Personality Detective Psycho. Reading the former felt odd as I'm sure I had only read volume 1. The latter I had read too quickly, and had become lost in the prose several times.
Otaku Syndrome aside, I have been consuming a more traditional book. I was loaned Stephen King's On Writing some weeks ago. I hadn't picked it up until I finished rereading books 1-3 of The Vampire Chronicles. Now more than half-way through it, I am beginning to suspect this is another part of a conspiricy among my friends to make me a proper writer.
On Writing begins with a short life story of the author himself. It was surprisingly honest, lingering one his faults more than I would have expected. He focused on his writing and how it developed from his childhood through his first breakthrough novel. I'm jealous of him in a way: While I have been often told I have writing talent, I have often ignored it. "Writing!?" I'd cry, "I can't make a living on that!" Programming still remains my true love.
My artistic ability had an earlier start. I had exercised it extensively during the City of Light: InterLock project. I was encouraged by a group of 3D artists in a chat room to improve and create more. Yet I still treat it the same as writing when compared to my skill with technology. When looking at my artwork my coworkers often ask me, "What are you doing here?" as if I had made some terrible mistake in choosing my career. I always answer practically: "Rich artists are dead artists, I am neither."
On Writing then moves on to the elements of the craft. In a few short pages, he conveyed to me what all my English professors had failed to do. If they had only handed me this book instead of harping about the horror of the passive tense and handing out mind-numbing exercises on identifying the elements of a sentence, I might have enjoyed their classes.
There was, however, one notable exception. I did actually enjoy my college Creative Writing class. I put in a surprising amount of effort into each assignment. He let me turn in assignments days or weeks late without docking my grade. He told me, "I don't grade you as a student, I grade you as a writer." Perhaps that's what my earlier education lacked, a writer speaking to me as a writer.
I just hope I'm worthy of the mantle.