Savoring the Written Word
Usually when I read a book that interests me I devour it, like a person who feels better after several days of illness. Or a woman right before her monthly cycle, eating way more than her own body weight. When I read, I sprint through the pages, the content flying by my eyes, the words a blur. I’ve recognized that as I get closer to the end of a story, I race to that finish line, as if I am competing. Which makes the book entirely new to me if I read it again later, because I didn’t really absorb it.
This time I am reading a book slowly, deliberately. Savoring each word and digesting the author’s paragraphs, as if eating a bit of rich perfect cheesecake or an exquisite Belgium chocolate truffle. I’ve decided to read only a chapter each day, and her chapters are only three or four pages, but dense with wisdom.
I picked up the book I’m currently reading because I’ve read one other by this author: Anne Lamott. That other book: Plan B. That book was recommended by a friend who knows me well, and I enjoyed the light and humorous narration with some life experience thrown in. It’s my favorite kind of writing these days – real honest words, with a touch of comedy and no unnecessary drama.
My current reading -Bird By Bird – is Anne’s HOW-TO book for writers. And it’s not what one would expect. Well, it’s not what I expected. See, I took a few classes in college because I want to be a writer… like Anne. I signed up for American Literature, Creative Writing, and a third class I cannot recall. I dropped them all within the first four weeks. Because I wanted to relay my experience…I didn’t want to dissect books. ‘What was the author thinking when he wrote that piece? Which character was the protagonist? What was the meaning of the moon shining on the wheat in the winter at midnight?’ At the time, that was not what I was looking for. I’d rather enjoy the story – fictional or non-fictional – than think about why the author wrote it. Maybe I’m missing out on that experience as well. Instead, I am getting a different kind of education – that of the non-fictional and personal variety. And lessons I didn’t expect (another favorite of mine these days: lessons in the form of leisure entertainment. I believe you can find a positive growth experience in anything if you know HOW to ‘read’ it).
Anyway – I’m reading her book. Chapter by chapter. And I’m considering what I’ve read instead of immediately diving into the next chapter. And the words mean more, and the content sticks better in my mind. I read the chapter Perfectionism twice. So I could understand how better to let go of it.
So I wrote this, to practice putting down words on paper. Spew. Walk away.
I’ll also recommend On Writing by Stephen King. He also has some great suggestions mixed in with personal life stories.
That’s all for now.