Words, words everywhere, but not a sentence to savor.
Yes, I took The Ancient Mariner as a model for that first line. Cheesy, but it caught your attention, right? Even sadder is the fact that I never read The Ancient Mariner from beginning to end. I could fill a book with great titles I never truly read.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love to read as much as even my sister, who is a walking encyclopedia of tid-bits and titles from the things she’s read lately. The challenge is just that I am terribly slow at reading, and worse, as age seeps down to the mist of a foggy brain, I’m remembering less and less.
People I meet spout quotations, titles, and authors like welcome raindrops in our parched summer in Colorado. I can’t remember more than “That Sam I am, that Sam I am.” And I never heard of quotation books or Bartlett’s until I hit college.
For me, the most uncomfortable thing is that as soon as I let people know that I’m getting a book published, right on the heels of their congratulations, comes the question “Have you read …” I look at them like a deer caught in the headlights and ask for the title so I might have a chance to run right out and acquire the tomb. I jot the thing down on my “must reads” list and travel on to the next embarrassing “No, I haven’t read that one. Please tell me about it.” If my must read list were in one place, there would probably be 500 titles of books I haven’t read. Oh the shame.
But let’s not get too depressing here. I am not totally illiterate. While I haven’t read such classics as Mac OS X, The Missing Manual, it has a comfy spot on my book shelf, and I dive in to find what I need when I can’t figure out how to close an email with a keystroke. I have Life magazine’s Wonders of the Deep sitting in my bathroom, along with the latest edition of Women’s Word (I am definitely going to write a romance for that publication sometime in the next year).
I have started reading at least three books recently, and finished reading a P.G. Woodhouse novel. They just haven’t had any passages that are relevant in a world where I talk about software maintenance renewals and support issues.
Author Connie Willis gave a talk to our writer’s conference a couple of years ago and spoke about reading eclectically and voraciously as part of the life of a writer. She described laying on a couch and reading all day as “research” for novels and stories she writes. Jealously, I listened to the vast array of things she’d read. But then, I realized, I read too. I just read differently. And in smaller portions.
And there is no couch time. There are two pets who want constant attention, a house that screams out for cleaning, a garden to tend, time with hubby both together in front of the Olympics and on the ballroom dance floor, and then there is the little matter of money, that translates into a day job. All excuses for not reading extensively, but all realities in my life. And doesn’t that sound exactly like the excuses we produce for not writing? Hmm.
So, for today, I promise to read a little more. I may read the coupon on the bag my bagel comes in, or the Yahoo news pages a little more thoroughly. Or maybe I’ll actually read some of the articles in that Wonders of the Deep, instead of just looking at the brilliant pictures.
In today’s world of rushing every activity, I will make time to read. There is a universe of words and stories to think about. And maybe, just maybe there is a sentence to savor:
“He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:
“Please, sir, I want some more.” – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.