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Old 05-17-2018, 10:57 PM
Oly Oly is offline
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Writer who wasn't a reader

Has there ever been a well-known writer who was also known for not being an avid reader of other people's writing? Just curious.
Old 05-17-2018, 11:15 PM
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I think never being an avid reader at all would necessarily make someone a third-class writer. But being uninterested in certain things? Probably most.
Old 05-18-2018, 01:13 AM
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Interesting question, but I certainly can't think of anyone who fits the bill. I can't even imagine anyone who fits the bill. But it's still an interesting question.
Old 05-18-2018, 04:05 AM
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Benjamin Disraeli, now more famous as a British Prime Minister than as a novelist, is supposed to have once said, "When I want to read a novel, I write one" or some variation on that. I can't find any solid proof he ever really said any such thing. See
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Old Yesterday, 04:00 AM
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Aside from the quote's attribution to Disraeli probably being apocryphal, one reason to be dubious is that he'd grown up in the most bookish of households. His father was notable as a literary journalist and famous as a bibliophile. Sons do oft turn against their father's obsessions, but if he didn't read much growing up it certainly wasn't for lack of opportunity.
Old Yesterday, 05:41 AM
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A writer friend of around my age (60ish) tells me that technology has lowered the bar for people who want to write. I don't know if he made this up or is quoting someone, but he says: people used to learn how to write; then, with the advent of vanity publishing, they would just start writing; now, they blog and call it writing.

Re: Disraeli's quote - since it's in the present tense, it doesn't rule out the possibility that he had done a lot of reading in the past, but preferred at that point to use his time to write.

My stalker
went through a phase where he wanted to be a novelist (not write a novel; be a novelist). I asked him who his influences were. He didn't know what that meant. So I asked him what writers he liked. He couldn't name any. So I asked him what novels he liked. He'd never read one. But he had read part of the way through a non-fiction book once.

So yeah, there are probably writers today who don't read. I can't imagine wanting to read anything by them.
Old Yesterday, 10:00 AM
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Does Tweeting count as writing?
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Old Yesterday, 11:00 AM
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Homer, obviously.
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
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Old Yesterday, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Homer, obviously.
Good one.

Except that wasn't Homer, but another guy with the same name. Anybody else here old enough to remember when that was going around?

I'd say there have been many genre writers who didn't read much literature generally, and who studied their own genre just enough to get proficient in it. The pulp guys who wrote 10-40,000 words a week literally had no time to do any pleasure reading.
Old Yesterday, 04:15 PM
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James Thurber lost one eye and damaged the other when he was seven. I remember one biography said he couldn't make out anything smaller than about three words on a sheet of paper.

But perhaps someone read to him.
Old Yesterday, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
James Thurber lost one eye and damaged the other when he was seven. I remember one biography said he couldn't make out anything smaller than about three words on a sheet of paper.

But perhaps someone read to him.
Thurber didn't begin to go completely blind in his left eye until he was in his 40s. That became a slow progression over a number of years and cataract surgeries. He wrote by hand for a while and then dictated to others. He used a jeweler's loupe for his cartoons.

He also had what he called a "trick memory," near photographic recall of everything he read. That undoubtedly helped when he played himself onstage reciting one of his stories for The Thurber Carnival in 1960, not long before he died at 67.

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