Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Open Book Ontario May contribution

This month I was one of 9 writers, who contributed to a blog posting on the question of how reading influences our own fiction over at Open Book Ontario.

Here’s my contribution: click on it to read the entire blog and all the contributions.

How does reading other writers of fiction inform your work?

The act of reading is more important to me than the act of writing. Reading fiction is central to my daily literary-vascular system, if you like, providing the nutrients that feed my chronic percolation and interrogation. Though reading criticism and non-fiction are also part of my brew.

I wish there was a machine, like the one that measures earthquakes, one could attach to each ear lobe which as you read would produce a graph that recorded where in the brain the words had nestled. Then in turn, when you wrote the same ear probe would record and transcribe which area of the brain was being drawn on. Until that time, I can but speculate. I speculate the reading of poetry, fiction, criticism, and non-fiction all equally inform my work. The combination of ingesting all four satisfies my primary need for departure points.

I’m always after departure points: wondering, wandering and churning. I have a hearty appetite for what many might consider redundant information! If my curiosity is piqued in a particular title/writer or topic or fleeting notion I will high tail it to a bookshop or library (in the dark if necessary) to find the work, right now, as in 5 minutes ago.

As a writer and a reader I’m happy to paddle with uncertainty. I’m constantly perplexed and puzzled and questioning. Departure points come in all kinds of forms, thus they aren’t necessarily delivered by being satisfied. Dissatisfaction can be a great springboard.

When we read for the moment or the paragraph, rather than the whole we also do not demand that every piece of literature serve the same purpose or hit the single high note. I enjoy collaging paragraphs or sentences from different works that speak to each other. This is especially true and necessary in a local literature.

Publishing has become a very singular act, but reading will never be that. Reading demands plurality, it’s hungry, it wants more flavour, more thought, more pages, other pages, the other’s pages. I have great faith in readers and we’re living in a time when readers are ambitious, embracing technology and engaging with a literary evolution where the novel may become a portal to a new media blend of varied art forms. I’m right in there with the best of them, clicking, swiping and still bending the corners of the faithful page.

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