Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Chores, Nightmares and Books: The Writer does not Read

It feels like ages since I last wrote anything!  In fact it's only been five days.  What?  FIVE days?!  Okay, so on second thought it appears my internal judge, who is always on the look out for violations, has pounced on me.  Five days without writing IS a long time.  In my defence I can report that I have not be idle all this time, but in fact rather busy.  The kids were down from Petawawa this past weekend and it was fabulous to see them looking so well and happy -- just as newlyweds should.  I've knocked a ton of chores off the list and I've been to the gym four times (I worked out too!).  I've even registered for a writing course this Fall (big accomplishment for me).  Oh and I've been reading.

What? Reading? You?  Well yes, I do admit it is a little out of the ordinary.  Okay, it's hugely out of the ordinary.  You see, I am not a reader.  There, I've admitted it.  It's a worrisome fact as I embark on a writer's path.  You know, all the serious writers read tons and are in fact well read people.   Well, I don't read much.  I never have.  So where does this leave me?  Discouraged, disheartened, embarrassed -- this is the stuff of nightmares...

There I am at the first writing class, a fresh faced newbie, and I'm being asked, 'What are you reading now?'  Alarm bells clang in my head, the room spins, all the saliva in my mouth instantly evaporates and there is that unmistakable prickling sensation on the back of my neck.  With my eyes firmly fixed on the floor I mumble, 'Nothing', then quickly add, 'at the moment.'  I am panic-stricken. Whatever made me think I could be a writer?  Perhaps I should just apologise and back out of the room. I really want the floor to open up and swallow me, but of course it doesn't.  Instead another question breaks the awkward silence, 'What do you normally read?'  It's asked kindly enough, as though my inquisitor is certain there must be something more to my reading than nothing.   But alas there is not and I am forced to admit it to all -- NORMALLY, I DON'T READ.

Of course I can and do read.  I've read countless textbooks, reference works, philosophies, and the like, all because I had to.  But I have very little experience in reading for pleasure.  It certainly cannot be found among my hobbies.  Somewhere along the line I never developed a love of reading and I didn't inherit anything of if from my mother.  She was a voracious reader.  Every two weeks she'd walk to the library, return the books she'd read and bring home five or six more.  She read in two weeks what I read in a good year.  My father read occasionally.  I suppose I'm more like him. 

Reading has always been somewhat of a chore for me and because I am a very slow reader (my own assessment), it is something that requires time and attention. I cannot read while the TV is on. I cannot read on the bus or the train. I cannot read if other things are going on around me.  But... now I'm retired.  I have time and far fewer distractions and I do enjoy a good story.  Perhaps now is the time to explore reading for pleasure. 

In fact, I've already started!  The gal in Blue Heron Books ( nearly overwhelmed me with six possibilities with which to begin this love affair.  I bought three of them and I've read (and enjoyed!) one: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Next up is Baking Cakes in Kilgali by Gaile Parkin.  This is going to be a bit more of a challenge to read as the writing is more dense,  but still I think I'm up for it.  So far, so good.

Normally, I just might be a reader.

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