Talking About Reading by Colin Yap

As a kid, I harbored a secret belief that the way I read was much, much different than the way anybody else read. It wasn’t driven by a superiority complex—I just didn’t understand why people talked about books the way they did. Admittedly, I had no better solution for the problem of how stories should be discussed. I adopted the personal policy that talking about stories ruins them, and that was it for me. Nobody had the right to muck up the pipeline between the individual writer and the individual reader.

Growing as both a writer and reader in the Creative Writing Department has forced me to confront this prejudice. The principal exercise of the department is deconstruction: the dismantling and analysis of the working parts of poems, stories, and plays. No sentence is left untouched, and no theme unnoticed in our discussions. While for most of my young life I thought of this act as poisonous, I’ve come to realize the value in a shared understanding. The more I talk about words and stories, the more I understand them, in a way that is wonderfully separate from myself. There was no big event that spurred this change, just a gradual willingness to step outside of my singular interpretation, and appreciate the hundreds of different ways a piece could be read. In this way, I began to understand the miracle of the word “I,” in fiction and in life, with its innumerable owners.

Being a part of Creative Writing means being a part of a community that values the intentionality of words above all else. It means being a part of a group of people who cares about writers: about Eliot, Hemingway, Murakami. But most of all, we care about each other, and the work each of us is producing. We critique and compliment and push one another. I think my younger self underestimated the idea of conversation surrounding stories. I maintain the belief that I read and write in a much different way than everybody else. However, it’s not a phenomenon that’s exclusive to me. For all of my high school years, I’ve been able to surround myself with people who love words as much I do. They’ve shown me how much I love to debate, to talk endlessly about stories, and made me a believer in a community of lovers of language. 

Colin Yap, class of 2016

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