How Can I Possibly be a Writer…
I always knew that I read much slower than the average reader. It’s another one of those things that I don’t think about much, as there’s no real gauge or point of reference for it — until there is. I just read at the pace that I read. Is there an acceptable standard? I think maybe there is…
My painfully slow reading pace became apparent (once again) recently when I was sitting in a meeting with about a dozen others. A paper was given to all of us and we were asked to read it through to ourselves and we would then discuss the content once we’d all finished reading. It was a page and a half single-spaced.
I began noticing via my peripheral senses that, within minutes, most of the group had flipped the page over to finish the backside of the sheet. I was only about half way through the front side. And then I noticed several at the table had set their paper down leaned back, crossed their arms, patiently waiting for the last of us around the table to finish reading.
This of course made me even more self aware of how sluggishly I was digesting the content. I sensed that at my current pace, everyone would be waiting for me in the end. All eyes bearing heavily on me, wondering what learning disability it was that afflicted me so.
Being increasingly more self-conscious, I could no longer process the words or comprehend what I was reading; I was too focused on the fact that people were waiting on me to finish. This of course, spiraled into some irrational anxiety.
I flipped the page over to the back side. I was just pretending to make some show of really savoring the message — narrowing my gaze and stroking my chin thoughtfully. I quickly tried to extract some blaring fact, theme or talking point from the noisy jungle of text. Some profound statement that I could intelligently parrot back in an attempt to sound very clever, if asked, “So Jim, any thoughts on this?” It’s one of few in my arsenal, defense mechanisms. I might then take a thoughtful pause and say something like,“Well now that you ask, you know something really jumped off the page here…”