A couple of years ago I set myself a goal to read 100 Great Books in one year.
I was trying to create a sense of structure and purpose in my life.
I still am, and always will be no doubt.
I have always read–I am never far from a book, tall towers of them in fact–but a predetermined list of one hundred ‘important’ books imbued my preferred pastime with a sense of focus and seriousness….that lasted all of fifteen minutes.
I read Pride and Prejudice and The Remains of the Day, Salman Rushdie and Milan Kundera, Gertrude Stein and Murakami. I read Samuel Beckett and it was divine. And then I stopped. Not reading, no nothing like that, but I stopped referring to my list when choosing my next read. And I stopped – indeed I had hardly begun – writing about what I was reading, here, in this place.
I strayed, as I am wont to do, from my self-appointed path.
Other words–marvellous words–have come my way and I have picked them up and gobbled them down. It’s been wonderful. I am full and fat. And yet. I have begun to feel unfocussed again, distracted, in need of some sense of purpose and focus. Hungry. I do not know the whys and wherefores of my vacillations. It seems I am what they call a “weirdo”.
The point of this blog – at least, what I declared to be the point – was to examine the relationship between reading and writing. First We Read, Then We Write, said Emerson. I can see now that it might not be in my nature to adhere to lists and arbitrary directives. I am happy to have returned to whim and serendipity, to that which calls to me in the moment. But it is still my most solemn wish to become a better writer and I believe that that largely entails becoming a better reader.
I suppose, this is a very longwinded way of saying that it is my desire and intention to return to the original spirit of this blog.
I want my reading to be stimulating, rigorous, critical and interrogative. I want to learn from it. I want to understand how stories and sentences and paragraphs work. I want to grasp the mechanics of the form. I want to see how they got the rabbit into the hat and how they spin the silk scarves from the palms of their hands.
I have no idea how interesting this might be for anybody else. There are all kinds of informative and more substantial resources out there. All I know is that I need some sort of impetus and this little blog has been a productive enough motivating force in the past. It feels good to press Publish, maybe that’s it… I hope there will be something of value here for someone besides myself. We’ll see…
In any case, like yesterday’s post, this post is mostly a bridge to get me from a couple of months of silence and on to the next place. How interesting that I can’t seem to launch directly into what I want to do. I guess I am somebody who is compelled to make declarative statements and verbalize my wishes and intentions. I need to learn how to just ‘do’.
Next post, I promise!