The significance of Reading and writing is to project inner feelings and thoughts to the outside world.  Whether the content is academic or creative, reading and writing take ideas and emotions that people have and makes them real for others to experience.  In addition, reading and writing is a rewarding activity.  It can educate people and expand their horizons as well as be a spiritual way of expressing oneself that may not have been possible through speech.   I think that reading and writing should originate within someone rather than be pressed upon someone from the outside.  It is not an activity that should simply be done to get it over with or be done in a way that will be rewarded by a good grade.  Reading and writing can be a very personal activity but it also has a social aspect in that a person interacts with another when they read or write.  A reader interacts with the author by listening to what the author has to say and using those ideas to form his or her own.  On the other hand, a writer interacts with the reader, whether the reader is a teacher, peer, or a general reader by conversing and trying to convey the message to their audience.  Also, the authors can even be interacting with themselves as the reader of their own work through reflection, contemplation and revision. 

Sven Birkerts says that, “Literature holds meaning not as a content that can be abstracted and summarized but as experience.  It is a participatory arena” (Birkerts 31). I agree with this view because both reading and writing require action and effort in order for it to have meaning. Writing and understanding reading at times can be a sudden revelation but for the most part it is not.  Readers and writers need to invest in their activity by sitting down, focusing and putting real work into it in order to get anything out of it.  This is completely essential for the reader or writer to come away with something valuable and worthwhile.  It may be difficult to do but it takes hard work to develop reading and writing skills. 

I think that this idea of reading and writing being an experience is especially true for creative writing.  I started creative writing when I was in school and it helped me realize that I had a talent for it.  In 6th grade my teacher started a unit on poetry and I greatly enjoyed writing poetry.  I was able to write what I felt passionately about and I was able to express myself on paper which I was not used to doing.  At first I thought that it would be a waste of time and just another assignment but it opened up a whole new world of expression for me.  Writing poetry made it possible for me to say things and express what I felt strongly about that otherwise I would have kept inside.  It became a new outlet of expression and I really enjoyed it.

   My writing of poetry is a great example of writing in one of its best forms.  In my creative writing and poetry, I started with ideas that I came up with and developed myself.  I was able to write without fear of writing the wrong thing and jeopardizing a grade in the end.  This positive experience encouraged me to write more outside of school.  I wrote quite a few pieces including a journal.  Writing this journal was very important to me and it was something that I tended to keep private.  This is an example of how a writer can also be the reader by experiencing their own writing.  Even though this writing was not very academic it was very special and it felt as if it were a piece of me that I was sharing which was very therapeutic.  It was this passion for expressing myself through writing that made me realize that reading and writing was a personal activity for me.  My writing that I chose to do outside of the work assigned to me in school was always something that I felt passionate about or something that I wanted to get out into the open.  These things could either be happy memories that I had or hurtful feelings that when I put them on paper helped to comfort me.

These effects on me were also true for me when I read outside of school.  I have not read much outside of school and I am not an exceptionally fast reader so it is hard for me to get very interested in reading.  The most memorable experience that I have had with reading was following a series called Cirque Du Freak.  This series is about a boy named Darren Shan who makes the decision to become a vampire. The series tells the saga of his life and development as a vampire.  I was able to relate to many themes in this book like developing and changing over time which made it entertaining for me to read.  Once again in this experience I started reading it and continued reading it because of my own desire.  I think that if someone had forced me to do this reading it would not have had the same effect on me. 

One of the most significant experiences I had with reading and writing was surprisingly an assignment I was given in my freshman year of high school.  I was assigned an extensive research paper in my honors biology class.  To date, this paper was one of the most difficult things I have ever written.  I chose for my topic the effect of fertilizer runoff on the crab population in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  My paper ended up being about 15 pages and I worked on researching and writing it over a three month period including an oral presentation.  This assignment, despite its strenuous requirements, really helped me as a writer.  I think that writing should be a result of an inner urge or inspiration in order to express thoughts or a topic that one feels strongly about.  Obviously this assignment did not encourage me to write what I thought but instead originated outside of me forcing me go outside of my comfort level and find information that could assist my argument. 

            Writing in school is often similar to this project I did in high school.  Usually it is not up to a student to pick the assignment but instead their teacher issues an assignment and the student does it in a way that hopefully will be well perceived by the teacher.  I think this is a bad approach for writing at its basic roots but it is a necessary part of people’s literary development.  In the moment, things such as the paper I had to do seems like something that is only frustrating and simply a task that needs to be done.  Throughout my writing career I have come to realize that in the long run, it helps people better themselves and improve their skills for their own writing in the future.  Writing and reading can be both a painful and rewarding endeavor.  Just like a marathon runner or an Olympic weight lifter needs to stress themselves in order to improve, readers and writers need to be pushed to do things that might be painful in order for them to grow.  Muscle is built by rupturing old muscles through stress and having new muscles regenerate around the original ones.  The same is true for writing.  Learning various techniques of reading and writing and practicing these techniques throughout one’s life will make a person all the more talented in the long run.  Through doing assignments, readers and writers will be better prepared to read and write in the future for their own reasons and promote their own ideas. 

            The way that people use the skills learned in school is up to them.  For me, I think that it is very valuable to be able to express my emotions when I feel inspired and to be able to relay my thoughts on an academic subject.  Reading and writing have such broad scopes from writing an article in a scholarly magazine to reading a comic book.  For the most part I tend to direct my actions toward reading and writing for my own expression and enjoyment.  I think that it would help the development of people’s literary skills to give them a little more freedom in the books they can read for assignments and in the topics that they can write about.  This would help people to start with ideas that originate from within instead of having ideas pressed on them.  In doing this, people would have more of a connection with their work.  If students were allowed to do more work on things that they were interested in it would help them embrace reading and writing as a form of expression and develop important skills without all of the resistance.   



Works Cited

            Birkerts, Sven, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Faber and Faber Inc., New York, 1994, Print