Today was cold. Brutally cold, though it has been colder this year. I just have a horribly low tolerance for freezing my ass off. Also, tonight, as I was driving home, it began to freeze-rain, or sleet. (I also noted that I need new windshield wipers and have a tire with a slow leak, but that’s another story for another day). Oh and prior to driving home, I had supper with friends from Writing group—newest and latest adventure? I tried Goat Meat for the first time tonight. I am in fact a fan.
I made it a point to no longer waste time concerning my reading. For the sake of School, I’ve put off numerous books I wanted to read, sliding them into a “to read” file—which has grown to take up more than a few shelves of space. This simply can not be anymore. So, I’ve decided to start working on my to read file. No matter what assigned readings my degree may call for, I must feed my soul. What does it profit a degree holder (and a writer!) to gain their goals but at the starving of their soul? (OK I stole this from Jesus, but you get my point. (and I hope JC is cool with that, nervous laugh)).
A writer must read!
It was in my Poetry class that we discussed this topic to great length. What books did we love, did we hate, did we passionately (or hatefully) respond to, with zest? What books did we fling forth, and what books did we clutch to our chests?
It worked on me, that discussion. I began to think, what were my book loves? What book took my breath away, how far back was my first breathless moment? And so on, and so on.
I was raised around books. Mom and Dad both always had books nearby. Sometimes the TV went forgotten as the three of us sat close to one another and read. When I was a child it was dinosaurs, science fiction (H.G. Wells and his Time Machine completely captured my heart and soul!), then came the “Choose-your-own-path books (I remember fondly the yellowing pages of those books, some bent and flipped as others had charted their own path through the wild woods of those great pre smart phone era imagination based games of adventure), and then Goosebumps, and upwards and onwards. I read them all. I was lost to my books and happier for it.
There were books of every kind, always around. Mom studied crafts and cooking and home projects, and dad read Westerns, adventures, how-to’s, and home repair, and other “useful” topics.
I remember fondly those forbidden books, though the age escapes me, the ones with the grotesque covers, painted in inky blacks and whites, lurid stories and wicked to the punch titles. They were called “Scary Stories” and it was the bigger kids on the bus that had those books, passing them around, sometimes giving me a sneak peek of what was inside. I can’t remember when I finally got to read one of those books for myself, I know only that I own them all now, and read them over and over.
I remember the great book hunts my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, and myself all would go on to Goodwills, and yardsales. I remember clearly, as I sit here, the back corner of the Goodwill of my youth. There was a jungle of odd smelling clothes between the front of that store and the back. It was there, in the far off corner, isolated from all the proper world beyond, that there was a long section of shelves which held a disorganized and wonderfully cluttered collection of books. I remember it was here I first found those great 1970’s original Choose your own path books. I remember clearly getting one of those books that was about a great fantasy adventure through mountains, and caves, and fighting off great spiders, trolls, monsters, dragons, and how I’d hold one finger at the decision page just to make sure I’d made the right choice. If not, I’d go back and choose differently. I’d gobble these books up, feeding my imagination, loving the richness not so much of the story but the worlds found in between those covers and having some say in their construction.
Funny the things we forget, when we never take time to sit down and remember, isn’t it?
Tonight, by my bedside table, in my stack of current reads:
Bradbury collections of Short Stories (October Country, Illustrated Man) also his nonfiction piece (The Art and Zen in the Craft of Writing) which I keep there even though I’ve read it.
Also in that little wire basket is Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories (Smoke and Mirrors).
Just beside me on the bed is the long piece I’m reading, Poppy Z. Brite’s, Drawing Blood (I was left breathless on page twenty, so soon in, and so deeply moved by emotion, shock, terror, repulsion and necessity).
What sits beside you tonight? Which author’s voice will whisper softly to your hungry soul, feeding you what stories, what words, what magic, what poetry, what wonderful things?
Question to myself:
Why do you fear sitting down to write plainly the happenings of your nonfiction and very real life?