Confession: When I get stuck while writing – such as 400 words into a scene that I realize doesn’t move the plot – I have a couple pick-me-ups. One is to pick up a dry academic book and read until my brain screams for creative release.* The other is to read a children’s book.
While perusing my library’s catalogue, I came across a title I hadn’t seen since I was little: Flower Moon Snow: A Book of Haiku by Kazue Mizumura. I requested a couple contemporary haiku books, too, which made an interesting contrast. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that when you decide on a course of action, serendipity comes into play? Something similar happened when I started the Book Project.
First, the library started taking donations for its March book sale. It’s hard to give up books, knowing may never see them again. But our librarians are thrifty. If my donated book is particularly interesting or in better shape than a book in their collection, it will end up on the shelf.
I started bagging books that someone else might enjoy. I filled three bags!
Second, I got a free copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I can’t say it was on my reading list. In fact, so many people were discussing it, I felt as if I’d already read the Cliff Notes and listened to the audio commentary!* Continue reading
As I mentioned recently, La Casa de Tontería would be much improved by a library – if only there were space.
I decided to create a “book nook” in the smallest room, which previous tenants use as a home office and a nursery respectively. I’d been using it as a “spare room” – the local name for a room full of old furniture and miscellany. A treadmill dominated it, nearly blocking the window.
A warning to readers: I’m indulging in decorating details. Continue reading
Pick a book, but not just any book. It has to be a book that I can read on the treadmill, so definitely not philosophy or anything by Gene Wolf. I’ll pause to think about something and roll onto the floor. Continue reading
Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? –Henry Ward Beecher
With the office rearranged and (mostly) organized, I see clearly my bibliophilia. It’s not a surprise to me, since I’ve loved reading since I first learned how. When I was a little kid, I used to read an English dictionary while riding the bus. When my older brother entered high school, I’d borrow his literature book when it happened to be lying around.
Our family always had books at home, whether library books or the old hardcovers passed on from other family members; e.g. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with its advertisement urging readers “Buy War Bonds!” Once in a very great while, my teacher hung a book publisher’s poster in the classroom and my mother let me order something.
It was so much fun looking at cover art, reading titles and blurbs, and finally selecting the best one. My best friend Tōn was my consultant, since we both loved books. I still recall the thrill of receiving the enormous paperback of Watership Down. It was the biggest children’s book I’d ever seen, a novel I read and re-read until even tape couldn’t keep the pages in the broken spine. Continue reading
“Get out a piece of paper or pull up a fresh document and write down every goal you intend to accomplish in your literary lifetime. Write down all your ultimate dreams and then try to write your way to them.”
-Katz, Christina. “Diversity As You Go.” The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques from Your Writing Career Coach. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest, 2011. 42. Print.
One of the fun things I did this past weekend was taking six books off the shelf and putting them in a bag for the library. A few were guilt-inducing books of writing exercises; they brought me no breakthroughs or epiphanies.
I considered getting rid of Katz’s book but when flipping through, a couple entries caught my eyes. This was one. I like to think of having a lifetime of writing in me, loop after loop of story like a thread spooled somewhere in my heart. Endless. Full of colour and promise.
It reminded me of reading Ray Bradbury explain that he wrote a list of story titles and then wrote the stories that went with them. It took him years, but he did it. Sometimes he had no more than the germ of an idea when he started, but somehow it grew.