My mother was an incredible reader. She would tell me how when she was young, she would climb a tree that perched over the family barn and read all day. It was the perfect reading tree with a rounded out branch just right for getting comfy. She'd hide up there away from her 8 brothers and sisters and escape to the world of the written word. She was such a reader that she would go to the library and take out the maximum number of books allowed, which was 6, and read all of them within the week. Soon she recruited her best friend to accompany her to the library so that Shirley could take out books on her library card and give them to my mother.
This love of reading was a gift Mom wanted to give to me. When I was a child, I would find books and magazines everywhere. They'd be stashed on the back of the toilet (in both bathrooms), in the den, the living room, the car, the kitchen. I had really no interest, preferring to go outside and play. When I was about 7 or 8, I came down with the chickenpox and was unable to venture outside into the sunlight. I remember this was when I discovered my first book. It was by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Oh glory... how I dreamed of being like Dorothy. And the book... the way the pages smelled, the feel of the paper in my hand and the weight of the book as I devoured each page. My next literary experience came from Two Stories About Wags by Betty Biesterveld. Wags was going to dig a hole to China. How delightful as my dog was named Wags too! I was hooked.
Now as an adult, I am a writer. I don't know how that happened. I wish I could say I'm still a reader but I've fallen out of practice. When I read it's generally to "get through the material" which is usually in the form of some computer manual or research assignment. I'm always in a rush! When I do get to read something for pleasure, it's an event. I'm thinking my mother would be terribly disappointed.
Despite that fact that others tell me I'm a good writer, I struggle with it. It's laborious, time consuming, and sometimes down right painful. It is a mystery to me how real journalists and bloggers can do this everyday and do it so eloquently. I say to people "I just don't know what to write about... I have nothing to say." This results in shock and dismay from those who know me best as I'm well known for having some pretty strong opinions. It is also pretty well accepted that I am able to express my opinions on a fairly frequent basis. As I sit here today, in a comfy chair by the open window on a beautiful Spring Sunday afternoon, I'm relaxed and thinking about the difficulties I often have with writing. Oddly enough, because I'm relaxed I find it much easier and more pleasurable to write this post today... Look at me go!
I think this is true of reading as well. Reading is not something to be rushed through. It is a luxurious activity. I passed down the gift of reading to my sons, David and Kyler, and I believe they are now better readers than I have ever been. Kyler once spoke to me about the practice of reading. "You have to take your time when you read. You can't skim a piece of fiction or literature. If you do, you are reading the book not reading the story," Indeed...when was the last time I read a story or experienced the magic of a word weaver spinning her tale? I can't recall.
I need an editor to proof my writing. I'm not looking for absolute proper punctuation because I'm in love with picking the right words that fit together. Every word is chosen for a reason and I love when I can make words fall into place in the most beautiful and unexpected of ways. I am a word weaver. I am an artist writer. And it's hard. But I think it would be less hard if I took the time to read. I mean really read. Perhaps I am mistaken here, but I believe one needs to read to write. So at this point, on a beautiful and glorious Sunday afternoon, I bid you farewell for now, I'm off to read.