The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
I have slowly been accumulating e-books for my iPad/Kindle library. Not a bad thing in and of itself. But when I’ll ever have time to read them all I’ll never know. Although I prefer the feel of a book in my hands, many of these are expensive when purchased outright, so I’ve given in to the e-book versions.
Very few are the quick read romance sorts of books. And forget how-to’s. I don’t think I could get past instruction #3. The one’s I’ve been gathering are the classics.
Yes — the ones many have heard of and few have read.
I don’t know if this is a chance to see what grandeur is all about before my generation’s writers become legend. But the scope of my choices are all in the past, all from past masters, and all for free.
I’ve downloaded a lot of H.P. Lovecraft — I love his vernacular. Even if I don’t understand some words. I’ve also been interested in Agatha Christie’s Henri Poirot’s adventures. I’ve thrown in books like the Count of Monte Cristo, The Great God Pan, Tales of Old Japan, and the Great Gatsby.
I feel like a kid in an ice cream shop who doesn’t know what to order so they order one scoop of each. 40 scoops later, I’m sitting looking at the bowl, wondering what the heck.
I do love reading. I’m not what one calls a voracious reader — I don’t spend hours snuggled in a chair with a book. I read at inopportune times — bed time, in the car. My A.D.D. prevents me from absorbing more than 20 or 30 pages at a time. And I have to find time between housework, writing, making Angel Tears, and my grandkids.
It’s a grand mess, but one I always look forward to jumping into. I think I selected these past works because they seem like time travel to me. Having someone write about shoguns or the Cthulhu or Mansfield Park takes me away to someplace other than here. It allows me to peek into the minds of those who came before me. In some cases, long before me.
I sometimes find myself reading two books at a time, for no singular story has so far been obsessive enough to make me pound through it. But I delight and dismay at all the books I’ve yet to peek into.
Maybe this will guarantee my living another 30 years to read them all.
What sorts of books do you read?
Well, a little too much surfing, a little too many nameless movies in the background, a little too much tightening of my blogs, and poof! Internet slowdown! I can’t get enough speed to watch my Chinese movies with English subtitles; can’t post on my blog, nor go to a Zoom conference without turning on my phone’s hot spot.
How did we survive before today?
How did we make it without the Internet? Without a thousand movies to choose from to watch at any given moment; or without playing nonsensical games online where you can stab and slash and overtake others to your heart’s delight?
I blame the Pandemic.
Of course, these days I blame the Pandemic for everything — my weight gain, my non-existent social life, my writing lull, my lack of motivation. One can only sit and watch the bluejay eating out of the front deck feeder for so long before you want to get out there and snack yourself.
The Internet is a curious thing. I have made friends in Australia, Spain, and Tennessee. I have found amazing artists that I never knew existed. I have walked through the streets of Paris and down some backroads in cities I’ve never heard of through Google Maps. I have learned about pottery and quilting and growing flowers from wonderful people I follow online.
Yet I have wasted countless hours sifting through images, reading celebrity gossip, and watching terrible movies that never should have been made. All that boredom had caused me to go past my high speed Internet throttle, slowing everything down to a crawl.
Life is not a crawl — it’s a sprint! Get it all done in one day! In one hour! Don’t waste your time, for one day you will turn around and you will have no more of it!
Without the Internet as my best buddy I had to go back to reading hard-covered books and hand-making wind sparklers. I had to watch some of the DVDs that have been gathering dust downstairs and take the dog for a fetchie walk at least twice a day. I’ve had to clean my house a little more thoroughly and actually talk to people in real time.
How dare my zest for life and creativity turn me in an entirely new direction?
Actually is is good to get away from the ease and madness of electronics. To go for a walk in the wind or pull some weeds or feel the pages of a real book. It’s good to use the silence around you as background music once in a while. To bypass the jibber jabber of mindless TV personalities and formula movies that are the same no matter what the title.
My new monthly Internet allotment arrived this morning. Writing this blog was priority number one. Why?
But I’m still sitting in silence, listening to the wind blow around the windchimes outside, watching the clouds roll in, thinking about making some more Angel Tears.
The Internet and it’s boredom isn’t calling so strongly today. And I like that.
I like being my own person again.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
George Peabody Library, John Hopkins University
Grand People’s Study House, North Korea
The State Library of South Australia
Royal Danish Library
José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico
Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Royal Monastery Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France
Salt Lake Public Library, Utah
As I sit on my sofa this first day of 2017, smooth jazz in the background, dogs sleeping on their doggie beds (along with Tom the cat), I am surprised at the strange swirl of thoughts that have threaded through my brain the past few days.
Many are glad 2016 is over — a lot of stress and bad juju last year. Others are building on the positive bridge they started last year. A lot of different ways to go for this supposedly first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life.
I’ve spent the last several days reading the blogs I subscribe to through WordPress. I feel bad I can’t read people’s thoughts and emotions the day they are published, but I make it a point to sometimes just sit and read. Not glaze through the posts, but really read them. And I found myself responding to quite a few of them.
Some pledge to write every day. One blogger just popped up after a six month absence. Some write poetry, some write tragedy. Some talk about cats, some talk about painting. It’s an amazing mix of talent, and I enjoy getting to know all of them.
I’ve learned to reply with questions if I don’t understand something, or comment that I can’t find the right words to comment. It’s all encompassing — there are bloggers that pop up every couple of months, and I find myself so excited to read something new. Others write every day, and I find myself looking forward to their next view of life. I even go back into the “manage” part of the Reader and click on names I haven’t seen in a while to see what I’ve missed.
This type of diligence makes me wonder about my own blogging. Why do I do it? Is it to achieve fame? Popularity? Do I write to test out my own verbal prowess? Do I do it to share my view of middle age and beyond?
I think we all go through identity crises … all the time. Rarely do I meet someone who has been whole from the very beginning and knows the cosmic truth of inner peace. We all look for approval. For validation. For the acknowledgement that we do exist. In all worlds. As an office worker, as a mother, as a friend — we all try to make the other person proud. We all want that “best of” medal to show that all our mistakes and missteps didn’t mean a thing, because we ultimately turned out to be the “best.”
We all may or may not have natural talent. Most of us just go through the daily grind of work and bills and driving through the snow, telling ourselves that tomorrow will be better.
Well, here it is, 2017. A new year. Is it better?
I hope I am hearing a “yes” from all of you. The more we learn, the more we grow. And the easier it is to circle back to our own soul for affirmation.
My daily job has…is…changing. I have been tapped to be a social media writer, which means that my rhetoric and vocabulary needs to be top notch. It’s a lot of work — much more than I thought. But it is also a chance to show that all my hours of writing blogs and novels and poetry and short stories has paid off.
Anybody can have big numbers of followers on their blog. I am still scraping off the notion that more is better. What is really important is how many people stop and say something afterwards. How many really get what you’re saying.
Take the time today to go into your Reader and read something you missed before. Take a minute to step into their world.
It will truly help you in your own creative journey.
Reflections of altered states, altered lives, is what writing — and life — is all about. It’s how I feel when I read, how I feel when I write. And there are times when I wish I could stay in those altered states a bit longer…
Enjoy this post from fellow blogger Tom Rains..
We long for altered states in life. Is this a bad thing? Is sobriety, the unaltered state, more virtuous? Is it more rational? Is it more real? Or should we aim to exist in altered states as much as possible? It seems like everything we love in life is similar to a drug-induced experience. Sometimes, […]
Yesterday I purposefully started going through the roll of bloggers I follow, determined to read at least the last thing they blogged.
Like all of you, I have other responsibilities in my life that get in the way of reading and writing all the time. When I come into WordPress, it’s either to blog or reblog, and read about the last 5-10 blogs in my Reader. I would follow more bloggers, but I feel it’s a disservice to sign up to follow someone you’re never going to have time to read.
And I have come to the realization that it is the group you keep in contact with that makes your writing worth while, anyhow.
My statistics say I have 943 followers.Or 445, depending on the statistics. In truth, I bet less than half of them read my writings on a regular basis. Which is sad but truthful. How could they? If they follow 30, 50, 70 bloggers, AND if they also have a life, there is no way they can give all the bloggers their full attention. Unless you are a wiz at multitasking or a speed reader, you just can’t read them all. Especially if some people blog more than once a day.
The same is time for Twitter. I suppose I follow 90 or so, and that many may follow me. Do you ever come back a few days later and the little button pops up and says “more tweets” and you click on it and the tweets scroll past you like a roulette wheel? How can you follow 40 or 4,000 Twitter accounts and read every tweet? Do you think that your followers read your Tweets several times a day?
The importance of social media is an illusion.
Yes, getting your name out there is important, It can be a well-developed strategy for getting readers and writers. In some cases, high numbers may mean your word is getting out to the masses. Like the prophets, thousands of people are taking your words to heart.
More often, though, numbers are just that. Numbers. Eenie, meenie, miney and moes clicked on your name like chits on a voting card.
Back to going through the blogs I follow.
Some blogs show a sea serpent with the words “No Recent Posts.” I can only hope they have gone off on other writing paths, other ways of self expression. Then there are bloggers who haven’t written in a while, but come back just often enough that the sea serpent doesn’t get them. Next are writers who write once a week or so. it’s easier to follow their journies because they let one message sink in before they start another. Finally are the daily bloggers, ones who have learned the way of images and poetry and short whispers that can be digested in one sweep.
I feel I owe those I follow my attention and my emotions. I would take on more birds and butterflies, but common sense tells me I can never grow if I’m busy doing nothing but following.
The purpose of today’s blog is perfectly clear. I say this all the time. Quality is so much more important than quantity. You can major in philosophy for 20 years and still not understand it if you don’t go out into the world and create your own reality. Don’t be fooled by the numbers. Movie stars and singers and top book writers have thousands of readers following their every breath, their every Tweet. Are they better off having all those followers if their messages don’t resonate in people’s souls?
I’m not saying don’t expand your reading base. I have often read someone’s comment and gone off to find their blog and read their posts. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I comment, the least I can do is like. There is so much to learn in the social media of today.
But don’t be fooled by the numbers. I wouldn’t trade the heart-felt comments on my work for all the thousands of glances I catch. Those who like or comment or just come and read and silently disappear mean more than any amount of checkmarks on the wall. If someone likes my stuff, they’ll repost or tell a friend. That’s what I do with the blogs I like. The same is true for Twitter. I should be tweeting 30 times a day, but I only retweet comments that mean something to others like me. Other artists, writers, purveyors of The Arts and the Unknown.
There are a million great blogs out there — a million great writers. A million great photos. A million great emoters. Find the ones that make you feel good and stay with them. But don’t stretch yourself thin. Make the most of your reading time.
Many a truth comes through a whisper as well as a shout.
Most writers have less and less time to read if they want to more and more write.
But it is in reading that I see what fascinates people. What motivates people. What creativity hides inside of people.
Do you know what a Cthulhu is?
I really didn’t. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know. There’s a lot of words in the world I don’t know. But I broke down last week and ordered the hardcover version of H.P. Lovecraft’s Greatest Hits. I’d always heard about his being one of the pioneers of horror and bizarre fantasy, but I figured it was time to find out for myself.
Now, for you readers, fantasy lovers, science fiction aficionados, you already know this word. But for those of us who never got around to reading many of the classics, this is a new word for us. For me.
There is a true style of richness in the writing of the beginning of the century — one that flows from the lips and mind onto the pages like melted chocolate. There is a decadence in their words that are lost to today’s publishers. Not that I harbor any negativity for modern literature — on the contrary, ~I~ am a modern writer. Language has changed; cadence, allusion, all fell under a different tree back in the early 1900s.
And that is why I read. To experience the same emotions written in the language of the time.
I don’t consider myself well read, although I have danced through quite a number of books in my lifetime. Novels, biographies, poetry, and short stories, from non-rhyming stanzas to staccato sentences to flowery where-is-this-going prose, I have enjoyed quite a bit of history through the eyes of other writers.
And that is why reading is so linked to writing.
When reading the flowing words of H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe, it as if I have time traveled to other worlds, other minds. I am a fantasy/historical/ancient worlds kind of reader, so their prose is right up my alley. I also loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy long before it became a set of movies, and found entertainment in the depth of books such as Shogun by James Mitchell and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. They all create a world with their words, a world you can get lost in.
We all have our style — we all have our authors styles as well. Those who seem to be able to articulate better than we can. Someone who can describe a world, a situation, in one or two sentences (something I am eternally working on). How much description is too much? Too little? How do we make someone care about what’s going on? How far do we have to go to bring the reader into our world? Should I cut this sentence? This paragraph? This chapter?
There are as many styles as there are days of the week. Or month. Even though we tend to pick our own genres of writers, there are many styles to choose from. To explore. To listen to.
That is why those of us who write write. That is why those of you who tinker with writing tinker. It’s like learning to play the piano. The beginning is full of mistakes and run-on sentences and confused plots. But the more you practice, the better you get. And the better you feel.
According to Wikipedia, “Cthulhu is a cosmic entity created by writer H.P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ published in 1928. Considered a Great Old One …. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshiped by cultists. Cthulhu’s anatomy is described as part octopus, part man, and part dragon.”
Think of what you could write around that!
So write write write. And when time allows (even when it doesn’t), read read read.
H.P. Lovecraft and his fellow writers will thank you for it.
Any of you who live in the northern half of the U.S. — or any country, for that matter — know what I mean when I say I’m done. Done with the snow, the cloudy days, the slush, the slop, the depression, the driving-like-a-little-old-lady kind of days. I’ve had my snow for Christmas; my grandson has made his annual snowman, I’ve spent a weekend at the ski lodge, and scraped and cleaned the snow off my car more than I care to tell you.
It’s supposed to be 64 degrees next Tuesday, and that’s not soon enough for me. I know it’s a false spring and all that, but go ahead — fool me — I don’t mind.
About this time every year I get tired of writing, too. Tired of sloshing around emails and sites, tired of editing, tired of being witty, nifty, and wise. Since I like to think of ALL of us as multi-artistic, I’m ready to clean out closets and get ready for my move to BoHoChicland.
I’ve got bags of beads to sew on sweaters and tops; I’ve got wire and string to restring my broken bracelets; I’ve got crystals to make more bracelets; I’ve got appointments with Good Will and other second hand places to help me restructure my wardrobe. Clothes never used to make me feel better, but these days, I’m open to discovery. I’m tired of looking like my great-grandmother (like I know what she dressed like..)
Besides the clothing overhaul, I’ve also got books I need to finish reading, hair to color, skirts to shorten. I need to open up the windows and get some fresh air in my stale house.
So let’s get going.
They say when God closes one door He opens another. He’s been really generous with me, because he’s opened about 15 doors. How generous.
So if you get writer’s block, go open another door. Remember — you are an ARTIST — category optional. Don’t worry — your main obsession will always be with you. But sometimes you just need a change.
Like the weather.
And who knows — maybe a closet full of beads will fall out on your head.
I’m not a skiier, but I’m really into laze. You know — have breakfast, let the cleaners clean, lay around, nap, talk, drink, eat, lay around, nap, go to the ski hill, watch the skiers, come back, lay around, eat, sleep.
Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
Of course, I will be taking my computer with me. I also need a good book to read. I’ve been slogging through the last “Game of Thrones” book…love it, but I need something new and spicy and faster reading to accompany me on the king-sized sofa. A lot of my books are temporarily packed away. So I started picking through the leftovers.
I can’t reach half the books because they are either stacked two deep or too high up or bags are stacked in the way. Lots of DragonLance books. Dozens of Tom Clancy’s. Who bought all these books? Lots of SciFi. Some philosophy books — I enjoy those, but hot chocolate and amaretto isn’t a good partner with esoteric ideas. Shogun. Angels and Demons. Gone With the Wind. Big books. I don’t think I can concentrate that long. I know I have some Stephen King around here — probably packed out of reach somewhere. Those are big books, too.
After digging and thinking and wondering what I should read, I start to think — man, I’ve got a lotta great books here!
They say in order to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. I so agree with that. I’ve read a lot through the years…maybe not what everyone else was reading, but I kept busy.
Then I started to write.
I don’t know about all you writers out there, but I barely have enough time to write, less time to read. Before I fall asleep — okay. In the car — maybe. But every other free time I find I’m pulling out the computer. A blog here, a synopsis there, tightening up this story, writing an outline for a new novel, final touches on a query letter — when do I make time time for James Clavell and Margaret Mitchell?
All of this cha-cha-cha in my head makes getting away for four days stressful instead of relaxful. What I really should do is leave all the books and computers at home, and concentrate on walking around in the snow and playing games with friends and cooking and napping.
Yet I am a writer. A writer with a little attention deficit. A writer who can’t stay still for long, who starts one thing and moves to the next and to the next and sooner or later comes back to the first thing. I can’t imagine this person sitting still, gazing out the window, chatting softly with friends and family, sipping wine, gnoshing a bit of cheese, and lounging for 4 days. My restless leg would be bouncing so hard I’d knock myself out.
So I do need to bring my computer. I do need to write — or at least pretend to write. After all, isn’t vacation supposed to be doing what you want (and what you don’t want) when you want?
I just wonder if I can type while I’m swirling out of control down the snow hill in a tube…
TV gets old fast. I’ve limited favorite shows to all the Chicago’s (Fire, PD, Med), Face Off, and, if I can stomach it, Hell’s Kitchen. I’m also a fan of Grimm, which always opens doors to my other cold weather passion — reading.
I’m in the mood to read something spooky. Something heart-pounding. Something that keeps me up until midnight (like I need that). I have read a few of Stephen King’s earlier works (The Stand, The Shining, Carrie), and a couple of Dean Koontz. (I can not get through his Intensity; family and friends have all read it and praised it but it gives me the creeps.)
I always wonder why milquetoasts like me want to read something that nightmares are made of. I know I’m not alone — good scary movies and good scary books are talked about long after the mediocrity of other books has passed. And, like movies, not just blood and guts. Anyone can talk Dissection 101 and make is painful.
I look for books that creep me out without scarring me for life. Ones with twists and surprises and a satisfactory, if not super positive, ending. For being a writer, I know it is one’s imagination that needs to be taken care of first. If your scope is narrow, so is your experience of the world. If your imagination is fertile, your imagination takes wing. You can imagine things before you see them. Which is the basis of any good book. Things don’t have to be spelled out in black and white to be understood.
So the purpose of this little Tuesday night gathering is — do you have any books that fit the above criteria? Creepy, scary, adventurous, fun? Books that keep you awake at night?
Also — has anyone read H.P. Lovecraft’s works? I’ve been thinking of ordering them, as he was ahead of his time in his ideas and writing.
Like blogs, Twitter, and movies, I think recommendations from friends are far more enjoyable than those from an advertiser.
And maybe, through your suggestions, NONE of us will get much sleep.
I love a good book; I love good blogs and good company.
I seemed to have found all three at Breezy Books.
I also love free books, and that’s what Maddie Cochere is offering. And, from the sound of things, that’s just what I’m in need of.
In Maddie’s own words:
I’ve always loved the name Susan, so I chose to use it for my main character. I decided to write about some of my life experiences from working in a weight loss center by day and playing racquetball at night, but I would have everything play out in a much more interesting way in Susan’s life.
… I completed the fourth book in the series. I know! Isn’t that crazy? But I was having fun – sailing along, writing, laughing, and self-publishing. My books are a fun, easy read. There is mystery, a little humor (sometimes madcap), and a little romance. They are pretty squeaky clean with nothing to make you blush.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of blushing and shifting in my seat every other page. Sometimes I just want to read something fun, something real, something that feels more like me than the color grey.
I’ve downloaded my free books — and can’t wait to start reading. And the great thing is that there’s more to come.
Come check out the Susan Hunter Mysteries!
I don’t often get many responses to my blogs, as most of my readers are very busy and read on the run. For those of you who do like to drop a word or six (for which I am eternally grateful), I have a question for you.
Would the following prologue make you want to read more?