When I stopped reading fiction it was not so much a diet as it was an accident. I realized only after two weeks that the “currently reading” pile of books next to my bed were all nonfiction, career oriented tomes with heeled women and posing business men on the covers. Though I did not make a conscience decision to only focus on career self- help books, that’s exactly what happened, and I’d be lying if I said a little piece of it didn’t come out of a place in me that wanted to get “serious.” As a senior English major at a college where people predominantly major in Biology, Nursing, or Business, I have often been encouraged (pressed) to use my writing and communication skills to become an Entrepreneur or a teacher, rather than a person who genuinely loves stories without reason.
At the time of course, I didn’t think about all of this. I just took a moment and realized that I was no longer reading fiction. I promised myself I would pick up a fiction book that night…but for the next two weeks I didn’t.
Am I exaggerating when I say that my soul started to shrivel up? Yes. But, I must say that there was a significant change in my attitude, my imagination, and my writing. I hate that people stereotype those in the corporate world as money driven drones who live without creativity. With this essay, I do not mean to imply that. However, as an artist and a fiction writer who generally reads a fiction story (or fifteen) a day, I have to say that a day without fiction is only a tad less dramatic than a day without food or water. Not only does fiction have the ability to touch our spirits, it teaches us how to marvel at the small things in our lives and look at them anew. Losing that knowledge, if only for a brief period of time, made my writing and my life less poetic.
When I finally picked up a work of fiction again, it was like magic! I felt like I was home, like I was a child discovering reading for the first time. When I began writing again, my words were filled with energy, excitement and authenticity. I was genuinely grateful for the process, finding the beauty in each paragraph, sentence and word.
So do I think that we should all give up on fiction? Never! But, I do think that we can each learn something by taking a brief fiction cleanse every now and then. Not only did it help me to rethink my perceptions of literature, it made me remember why I fell in love with reading and writing in the first place.
By: Tiara DeGuzman