A Thing Called Reading…

my second home in the 1970s

One of my most vivid reading memories (aside from the hours I’d spend in the red beanbag chair in the kids room at the Carmel Valley Public Library reading and re-reading Julie Andrews Edwards’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles) was when at 14, I got the chicken pox for the first time and read, in a literal fever, Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

I hadn’t yet had the thought that a book was something I’d ever want to write myself, but I became aware (in a way that I couldn’t in that bean bag chair) of the book as a thing. And that in order to be transported, all I had to do was open this thing called book and do this other thing called read.

I mean, I was also itching all over and probably about a few fever degrees away from hallucinating, but still…I remember feeling this other thing called not alone. And that the presence of the spirit of the book was something that could not be argued.

Night before last I finished The Con by Ed McBain (Detective Steve Carella and life in the 87th Precinct…nothin’ like it). The women in the book were either 1) deaf and mute, 2) dumb enough to fall for a long-distance personal ad placed by a serial killer, 3) dead, or 4) about to be dead (from arsenic), but hey, it was published in 1957. Fun read!

Yesterday I read Robert Schirmer’s story “Ghost Theater” on Joylandmagazine.com. A haunting and brilliant story. (Also Bob Schirmer is an editor at Outpost19—two writers I know have digital books forthcoming with Outpost19).

I’m also reading The Gift by Lewis Hyde.

And The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

I’m always reading and re-reading sections of Priscilla Long’s The Writer’s Portable Mentor.

I plan, next, to finish Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn. (The movie will be coming out soon and I want to have read this before the movie images overshadow my reading experience.)

After that, I will move on to Antonya Nelson’s novel Bound.

My mom suggested I read the article in the NYer about the tv show Portlandia. So I have that on my nightstand on the ready.

Read on.

Note to Self: Do Not Ignore the Spark

I’m inspired this morning by reading writer Wendy Rawlings’ new blog, The Agnosticator. Her posts are personal, heartfelt, brief, and make me want to write. Lately, when I feel that spark, I see it out of the corner of my eye and tell myself—sinfully—that I’ll respond later. But it’s called a spark because it’s quick and if it occurs at the right place at the right time, a whole house could go up in flames. If a piece of writing is a house, and fire is what we’re hoping for, I better stop turning away.

Circa 1984

In today’s post, Wendy writes about her early attempts at writing, one of which when she was twelve. When I was twelve, I was doing many things at once: discovering the benefits and defecits of combining THC with Bartyls & James wine coolers, attempting (fruitlessly it turns out) to maintain the possibility of becoming if not an olympic gymnast at least one with a scholarship at an NCAA school, and I was making early attempts at writing—I kept a journal over which I cried often.

In my head, and my headphones, David Bowie (the David Bowie who sang “Rebel, Rebel,” and “Changes” not so much the one who sang “Let’s Dance”) is the only one who truly understood me.

I am no longer a gymnast, pot and alcohol have fallen away, but writing (as well as Bowie) remain. I think my writing is better than it was when I was twelve. I don’t cry over my journal as often as I did then, and I’m glad to be forty instead of twelve. But the spark…the spark needs my utmost attention.