I have been an aspiring writer for as long as I can remember. Which means that I think about writing all the time but rarely write outside of schoolwork. And when I do write, I’m mortified when anybody actually reads it.
(Funny story. I began writing a novel a few years back, I was so worried that someone would actually read this novel in progress that I put it on a password protected thumbdrive. I can’t for the life of me remember what the password is now, so now even I can’t read the damn thing.)
But toward the end of last year, I happened to buy a book, The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life, by Andy Miller.
And it changed my life.
I know that sounds a bit too grand and a bit exaggerated, but it’s true. I’ve always loved reading, usually getting books from the library or from the a paperback book exchange in town (which, sadly, is now defunct), but lately I’ve been reading e-books and gradually, imperceptibly, reading lost the magic it once held for me.
But picking up The Year of Reading Dangerously, thumbing through the pages, going back to revisit passages, and carrying it around with me everywhere I went, thankfully, blissfully, and surprisingly brought the magic back.
I’ve always been a reader and have always had a book on hand, if I had a minute or an hour, I would read it. I would devour books. When I transitioned to reading on my tablet, that all stopped.
I didn’t carry my tablet with me everywhere (if I lose a book, no big deal, someone gets to read a great book and I’m only a few bucks out of pocket. If I lose my tablet, pretty big deal, someone gets to read all of my personal information and I’m out a few hundred bucks out of pocket), I didn’t even read it in those brief snatches of time in the house because it wasn’t a matter of just picking it up and flipping to the current page and reading a sentence or two, I had to turn the thing on, wait for it to boot up…you get the picture.
So reading a book, a printed book, was magical for me, I was euphoric! I carried it with me everywhere, I read in brief spurts and marathon sessions. It was bliss. Not only did I immensely enjoy reading a real, pages-between-two-covers book, it was a book about books! Ahhhhhh, bibliophile nirvana.
I was walking on air. And I started my own list of books (most of them the printed variety, though I will still download some to my tablet because it is convenient and I can download eBooks for free from my library) to begin reading. Ironically, the first book is an eBook, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (though I think that both Andy Miller and Douglas Adams would approve of this, given the nature of the book).
So though I didn’t ‘resolve’ to read more, I am reading more. And I aim to keep reading more throughout 2015 (and beyond), including a whole lot of books, “the greats”, that I’ve been meaning to read that I just didn’t have time for.
Of course I have time for them. I just have to make it. And I will make the time because the magic is back and I know it’s worth it.
Reading The Year of Reading Dangerously also inspired me to write. To go from being an aspiring writer to just being a writer.
First rule of writing: to be a writer, one must write.
So I started a journal (on January 1, coincidence? I think so, but maybe not, who knows, our subconsciouses do weird things). I have thought about starting up a journal plenty of times. I’ve even recommended it on MyCuppaJo’s Facebook page. I knew there was value in journaling and just writing out my thoughts, yet I never did it.
You’d think, with all the freakin’ thinking that I do (much of it about writing), that I’d have a freakin’ journal.
But nope, all my thoughts just stayed stuck in my head, keeping me up at night, distracting me from all the things I needed to do. I did keep notebooks where I’d annotate textbooks and things I’d learned about pain science or neuroscience or fitness or nutrition off the web, but they were notes, not my thoughts, they’re a notebook, not a journal.
(These notebooks are in the guise of a journal, however. I had so many of the damn things, as I’ve intended on starting up a journal in earnest for quite some time and thus kept purchasing them or receiving them as gifts. But since I never actually wrote anything personal, anything journalish, they all sat empty until one day I figured I’d fill them with words to fulfill their purpose of being a place to put down words. I started my notebooking with a nice, leather bound journal I’d had for only 8 years or so, filling the delicate lines with my ‘pain book’ notes, the notes I intend to refer to when I write the book on chronic pain I’ve been thinking about writing.)
Writing in a journal is the best thing I could have started doing. It makes me wonder if the darkness of my injury and surgery and pain would have been lifted a little if I wrote out my thoughts at that time, rather than just thinking them.
But I won’t regret not having started back then, for regrets do us no good and it won’t change a damn thing. I have the chance to start now, so I am, and I’m happy.
So, although I didn’t resolve to, I’m writing more in 2015. And not the academic, science-laden writing I’ve been doing plenty of the last few years in grad school, but rather writing in my own narrative, telling my own story, bringing together all that I’ve learned and experienced and all that I hope for in my own words and my own style.
It’s scary as hell.
I’m still scared to death that someone will actually read it. But I’m also excited about the potential that someone might actually like it.
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