Some years ago, I was in a writing workshop and someone asked the workshop leader how to become a better writer. A rather arrogant sort with wild Albert Einstein-like hair and little glasses on his nose, he rolled his eyes, sighed and said in a long-suffering way, “Read.”
A long pause. Another sigh.
That was it. Just read. Everything and anything. And then write. Every day. No matter what.
I’ve always been a reader. When I was younger, it was a form of escape. And in truth, I suppose it always has been. A chance to visit other places, even other worlds. Meet people I’d never meet otherwise. I could take the ideas in the stories I read and build on them in my imagination. Sometimes I even tried acting out scenes. As a child, that is.
Now, reading is as much a way to de-stress as it is to escape. To give my brain a break from the usual and venture somewhere new. Maybe into a dashing romance. Maybe into a provocative series of essays. It doesn’t really matter as long as I go somewhere intriguing and learn something new.
One of the great things about the holidays is the batch of new books I get every year. Some are actual books, some come in the form of bookstore gift cards. I’ve already done some online shopping and picked up several new stories I’ve been wanting to read. I’ve got another gift card still to go. My new books range from science fantasy to a Giller Prize novel to Stephen King’s latest to a fascinating-looking book about how right-brained people are poised to take over the world from all the logical left-brainers who’ve been running it for the past umpteen years. (Being a right brainer, I’m especially enthused about that.)
There are books all over my house. In bookcases. In stacks next to the bed. In the bathroom. The family room. The living room. Every room in the house, in fact. Every now and then I tell myself I’m not allowed to buy any new books until I’ve read all the books in the house. Until a new trashy novel catches my eye in the airport and like any addict, I tell myself one more won’t hurt. I can finish it before I get home and leave it behind. No one will know.
All this to say – if reading makes you a better writer, I should be pretty damn good! Full of ideas and neat, creative turns of phrase. And yet…
I’ve been thinking about this blog and whether I should continue it. It’s just over a year old now and my posts have been farther and farther apart. Finding time to write is a challenge. Writing publically is a risk. Nor do I want to be boring. I can think of few adjectives more insulting. So why do it?
I spent a few minutes today jotting down why I wanted to blog in the first place. Then I jotted down stuff I’m passionate about. (Yes, I know that’s not grammatically correct.) I discovered that I still have things to say. But I’m removing the pressure of trying to write every week.
I also plan to post some of my photos. I have a nifty new digital camera so I plan to try my hand at photo essays. I’m thinking about a way to incorporate photos and photo essays into learning design. I want to write more about adult learning and labour education, facilitating and hosting meaningful conversations. About human relationships. About resolving conflict. And of course, my family is always good for a bit of humour! (Oh – and I need to learn to use fewer exclamation points! . )
Most bloggers, it seems, choose one broad subject area and write to it accordingly. In fact, WordPress advises you to do that if you’re looking for an audience. Me? I just write about stuff.
So I will continue to write when the spirit moves me. The threads will weave together, musings will occur when my mind goes wandering, connections will come in flashes of clarity. Threads, musings, connections. That’s it, that’s all. For now.
- 11/22/63 by Stephen King (nochargebookbunch.com)