So last week, Emily and Ted and I were sitting around talking, and Emily said something about the radio drama in her head while she was reading. Ted said, “You only get a radio drama?” and she said, “Oh, no, I get pictures, too.”
Now, Ted has said this before, but I always thought he was exaggerating, so it sort of threw me, and I said, “You really see *pictures* while you’re reading?” And they both insisted that yes, they did. Rather like being the camera in a movie, in fact.
It took me rather some time to believe them. I don’t *get* pictures in my head when I’m reading. If I think back on a scene, I can see it play out, but it doesn’t play out in my head while I’m reading it. Nor does it play out in my head while I’m writing it. I have, at best, stills. I can call images and scenes up, but they don’t naturally play out in my head.
So we went to my parents’ house and asked them, because this was so fascinating and weird to all three of us (for me, that they see pictures; for them, that I don’t!). My parents don’t see pictures when they read.
Ted’s parents and brother do.
The random waitress we asked at Tony Roma’s does.
And, corollary to that: if I tell you to think of, oh, Tom Cruise, do you see a 3-D sort of image of him in your mind? Or a photograph? Or… what? I *can* call up an image in my mind, but I can’t hold it. I *know* what Tom Cruise looks like, but I don’t *see* it. So… what happens when you, my gentle readers, read?
Further corollary, for writers: what happens to you when you’re writing? Do you see what’s happening, or do you … *know* what’s happening (I more or less do), or do you (struggle to?) hold images in your head to describe them (I do), or something else entirely?
Third corollary (I’ve just learned how to spell corollary and I’m very excited about it, can you tell?): how fast do you read? We’ve determined thus far that the seeing pictures aspect isn’t, as we thought it might be, related to reading speed, as Dad, who reads slowly, doesn’t see pictures, and Ellen and Ted, who read very fast, do, and Shaun and Emily, who read slowly, do, and Mom and I, who read very fast indeed, don’t. But I’m curious anyway!
Please! Discuss! :)