Reading Too Much. Writing Not Enough.

On WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, I read this blog post (featured by WordPress. How nice of them, no?) There are some great books listed there that I am interested in reading. But not until I finish the books that are currently on my nightstand and other convenient places throughout my apartment.

In no particular order or preference, here are the books I’m reading:

  • Eats, Shoot & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss
  • A Double Life, Discovering Motherhood by Lisa Catherine Harper (Winner of River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize)
  • Old Friend from Far Away, The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
  • Writing Down the bones, Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (although I have not opened it in a few months…)
  • Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (I only have a few more chapters of this one…I got distracted by Natalie Goldberg!)
  • The Memoir Project, A thoroughly Non-standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith
  • River Teeth, Stories and Writings by David James Duncan
  • The Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil by Denver C. Snuffer, Jr.
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I’m reading the Little House on the Prairie series aloud to my daughter.)

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There are so many good books and just not enough time to get through them fast enough! But remember a previous post of mine about doing one thing at a time? Reading books should definitely fall under that – and it does. But I just cannot help myself! Sometimes I feel like something light, and other times I am crave instruction and mentoring. I create a menu that includes everything from gourmet to fast food material and as each mood calls, that need can be met. Its brilliant really, although my husband would beg to differ. The library fines add up and the books clutter the house.

Does anyone know of a good book that will teach me how to speed read? That is the answer!

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In case you didn’t click on the link above taking you to River Teeth Literary Journal, (there it is again) I’ll share a little bit about that here. This Literary Journal publishes the best of the best nonfiction work in the country. Authors and novice writers like myself will be gathering for a conference in May. A writing conference. Did you hear that? I am so lucky to be attending this prestigious writing conference! I hope to rub shoulders with a few published authors and learn how to better apply myself to the craft of writing. I will be able to go over a manuscript with a professional and get some feedback on my projects. I am both excited and nervous about that…

I attended a writing workshop in Park City when I was 16 called Writers @ Work. It is in its 27th year. Dear old Mr. Daugherty, my Jr. English teacher, submitted my application and with the help of a scholarship (and my dad) I went for a weekend and received writing coaching from poets like David Lee and other fiction and nonfiction authors whom I cannot remember. It was a while ago and I am certainly in need of a mini writing boot camp. I will be going to OH for this conference with my mother. It should be a fun time, and a trying time as I am forced to dive headlong into a project that has been eating at me for years.

I’ll keep you posted on that. Wish me luck on all the pages I’ve got to read and more so for all the the thousand’s of words I will be writing.

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Room

Looking for a good book to read? One that just may change your life? Do yourself a favor and go get this book by Emma Donoghue.
After seeing it on a friends Goodreads list, (thank you Emily!) I started reading this book last week and couldn’t put it down. If I didn’t have a real life, I would have been able to finish it in one sitting. It was that captivating. I finished it last night and now cannot tell if reading the book was as good as therapy, or if I need therapy now! Either way, my life is forever changed.

That’s all on that for now. Just go read the book if you haven’t. And if you have read it, what did you learn from this book? (No spoilers, please!)

http://www.roomthebook.com/

Procrastination

Saturday evening. The house is clean. Food prepped for tomorrow’s dinner. Laundry all put away. Children tucked safely in bed. Dear hubby, who is preparing something for tomorrow’s Sunday services, remains unavailable.

What to do?

  • I contemplate a shower. They are such a drag these days for some reason.
  • I came to terms with my stinky armpits, and decided to shower after all.
  • But not until I stood in front of the mirror running through the “what-if” scenario of actually shaving my head. I thought better of it.
  • Instead I made funny ponytails with my hair which looked like a web all over my face, like a mask. Never done that before!
  • Showered. (It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.)
  • I reflected on my starving relationship with the special girl who gave me that book. She was right. I really am a Grasshopper.
  • I thought about writing on exactly that topic and about how I really feel like a Grasshopper in a world of Ants.  (seemingly)
  • I thought about how writing it all out overwhelms me…So I stopped and decided to do something else I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Not write, but…
  • Sharpen my colored pencils. Fifty-nine of them. By hand.

Okay. Got that done. Time to write. I can’t procrastinate it any longer.
Grabbed the laptop, trusty iPad for some music (currently: Tracy Chapman Radio on Pandora) and my uke. (because THAT always helps me write.)
Then I spent about an hour surfing various Ukulele sites. What a quirky little obsession I have with that instrument! A lot of the sites help force me to realize just how ameture I am on the uke. But I still attempt songs that are beyond my skill level. Just in case I can nail it. One of these days that strategy will work…

Tonight’s song: Country Road by John Denver. I know. Everyone should know that one, right? Singing/playing that song I thought that maybe Mr. Denver didn’t really die in that airplane wreck back in ’97…what if he really is still alive and just hiding from all that fame?! How difficult would it be to arrange your timely death, just to live on in peace?

I finally put the uke down and began this little bit of writing. Which, to my surprise, actually is funny to me- that I would share this. Because, after all, what exactly have I accomplished?

Just another night of procrastinating what I set out to do in the first place: to write something meaningful.

Welp, goodnight!

What is Real?

I have been thinking a lot about what it means for me to be real. You know- authentic, original and down to earth.

The difficult part is accepting this change and just going with it.  So much about who I am (both physically and not) has metamorphosed (yes, that is a word!) as I have grown up. Getting married. Having children. Working. Developing hobbies and habits. Growing spiritually. These are all great things. They build my character. No, wait. The way I deal with these changes builds my character. And my character, I believe, is what makes me Real.

Quite a few years ago, a very good friend of mine introduced me to a story called The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (you can read it here)

In it there is an exchange of dialogue that I have come to base a lot of who I want to be on. My own personal mantra of being Real is important to me. I reflect on this again and again, and when I am feeling down-trodden, depressed, ugly or if things are changing that I am not ready for, I can read this part of the story and remember that to be Real takes time and is not for the faint of heart.  I remember that I don’t have to kept carefully, nor do I want to be.


The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

I really, really like that.

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Another way I have learned to be real is by being alone.

I am most like WHO I AM when nobody is looking. I question myself quite often when I am alone (which really is not too often these days).

Is this who I want to be?

My own journey of accepting my changing self and being true to my personal mantra of being Real will never end. And I’m glad because the world needs more Realness in it.

What is Real to you?

The China Study

I’ve been on the wait list to read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D for a few months now. It is finally my turn to read it. I started it tonight while taking a little jaunt on the treadmill and I am very excited to continue it!

Natural Health and nutrition have become sort of an obsession of mine the past few years. I can’t seem to get enough of it!

This book discusses the scientific studies conducted over a long period of time having to do with disease and diet. I’m pretty sure the bottom line is promoting a vegetarian or vegan diet.
I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts and any changes I make along the way.
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Have you read it?

Wish me luck!