Reading as a Sport

DSC_0282I’ve been reading since before I could remember. My mother tells me that I could read books since I was three. I’m not even sure that it matters anymore. Reading books have been a source of pleasure for my entire life.

Although I love to read, my book consumption tends to rise and fall with my moods. When things are normal, I read at a normal pace. What that means is unless I hold myself back, I won’t put a book down until I’m finished. Well, except for bathroom breaks and snacks, food is important to keep up the energy to read. When I am in reading mode, this is about a book, maybe two a week.

During grad school, I kept books in the bathroom. I felt guilty for reading when I was supposed to be doing homework. But if I had a book in the bathroom, that was okay. Who cares if I spent an hour in there?

My choice of reading material has changed a bit over the years and I still collect all sorts of books. I will even read books over and over. I’m a fast reader so sometimes I have to read them again to make sure I’ve read the whole thing. In speed reading, one tends to skim rather than read for detail.

There is so much pleasure in books.

When life is a struggle, I tend not to read as much. I just can’t sit still and get lost in the story.

Last year, I decided to keep a journal of the books I read and there were months that I didn’t finish a book. It wasn’t a good year for reading.

This year, 2016, began in a difficult way. I’ve struggled to write, work and to live my life the way that I want to. Reading, the thing that gave me so much pleasure in my life, was something I couldn’t do. I wasn’t able to sit still long enough to finish a book or anything.

In my book reading journal, January is blank.

Moving on to February, things have changed. Have I mentioned how much I love to read? Well, It is only the second week of February and I have read seven books, documented in my book journal.

I’ve taken reading to another level.

Reading has taken over my writing time. While reading isn’t a bad thing, not writing can be.

Stephen King said in his book, ‘On Writing’, “Read a lot, write a lot.”

I seem to be bouncing back and forth between the two. Well, maybe not bouncing. More like feast or famine. Either I am reading a lot or not hardly at all.

There has to be a balance.

I would like to be able to pick up a book and read a chapter or two before bed as a way to relax. I would like to savor the story and spend time thinking about what I am consuming. Yeah, nope. That doesn’t happen.

Once I am hooked, I’m not moving until I find out what happens. It is a sprint to the finish line.

Where is the happy medium?

I haven’t written on any of my current projects although I wrote a bit of flash fiction last week that looks promising. There is little else I am working on. I am sticking to my goal, however, of writing 500 words each day. Most of the time, this writing consists either of a journal page of ramblings or a blog post, sometimes both.

DSC_0275Reading is a hobby, and as a hobby, I cannot allow it to overtake my life. I do have other things to do.

But for now, I will read whatever and whenever I can. At least, until I run out of books.

Maybe not even then.

Lots of Words

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As a continuation of my theme of necessary things for writers, I give you the following quote:

“Start early and work hard. A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” David Eddings

This is something I have had in the back of my mind since I began to take my writing seriously. The more words, the better I am at writing. I think I started too late.

As I sit down to write my only goal is to get the words on paper. There are times when I have to remind myself that shitty first drafts (thanks Anne Lamott) are a necessary part to writing. It isn’t about writing a masterpiece the moment you have a blank page in front of you.

“Read a lot; write a lot.” This advice comes from Stephen King in On Writing. These words are also in the back of my mind especially when I’ve gone a few days without reading something. I write every day and try to read everyday. I must confess when I run out of time it is my reading that suffers. In the days before the internet and all of the writing courses, people learned to write by reading others. This is still necessary.

Writing involves sitting down and putting one word in front of another word until the page is full. That is all there is to it. It is the irritatingly the most simple and yet the most difficult thing that I do each day. I am still working on my million words.

Where are you on this million plus word journey?