I try to interrogate my reader bias as often as I can; the questionable motives behind my rage or comfort when reading, how hard and how often I project my own life onto the protagonist, and sometimes even, to my own shame, onto the author. And I wonder how often I am so hungry to read something that does my feelings and my experience justice (knowing full well I’m the only one who can write that), that I start to be frustrated when a book fails to do so. I suppose I’m still working on my book, and a great way to procrastinate is to think about how other people are writing their own books, and all the things they should have done differently. It’s been a safe and reliable distraction. I’m not above it.
One of my worst biases as a reader is that I think all good work is actually nonfiction and that only nonfiction makes for good work. Whenever I read good fiction, I do the mental gymnastics necessary to reframe it, for myself, as a real story, because I only believe in or know how to process real stories. I have no imagination. My mind does not travel far enough to invent anything, or perhaps I’m too occupied by my immediate reality, or perhaps my immediate reality has been too dominating, so I don’t understand or compute invention when others do it. It’s a limitation I become hyperconscious of when I read a good work of fiction and treat it with no distance; every comment, every abstract statement or flawed reaction draws radical and emotional responses from me as if it were all happening to me personally, or being sold to my very self.
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