Sunday, October 26, 2008

Writer's Block

Even though I should be writing an essay for my English class and studying for upcoming tests, instead I am reading all that I have not been able to read because of midterms. Studying for midterms gave me the worst case of reader's block; you know the inability to finish any book you read or to even try to muster up the desire to even look at a book.
Last weekend I took my siblings and kids to the main library to check out as many Halloween books as possible. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, second only to Thanksgiving. I love the feeling I get when I first walk into a bookstore or a library for the first time in a while. It's like going on a date with someone you really like and feeling butterflies.
So this week I sat and read. I read while waiting for the bus to take me to school or pick me up from it, I read while walking down the street (which is really dangerous considering that I could have walked into a pole,) read while the kids took naps and sleep. I even read when I should have been studying.
If you don't know, the cure to reader's block is reading children's picture books. The cure is guaranteed. I read so many children's books this week and felt so good doing so. I started with In A Blue Room by newcomer Jim Averbeck, the story of a young girl whose mother is putting her to sleep using her favorite things. I also read Neil Gaiman's The Dangerous Alphabet. Once you read one Neil Gaiman book you try to read as many as possible.
Oliver Jeffers is a favorite in this house, having wrote How To Catch a Star, The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Lost and Found, and his newest book The Way Back Home, about a boy from Earth and a boy who is a Martian being stuck far from home on the moon.
Because I am a voracious reader, I am trying to slow down and smell the pages. I can devour a book in a matter of hours. Though I can remember the plot, sometimes I read so fast that I can barely remember the character's names! So I started reading Francine Prose's Reading like a Writer. It's such a helpful book. I see how much I have probably skimmed over reading, so I'll probably spend Thanksgiving and winter breaks reading my favorites all over again. I already started re-reading The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 edited by Philip Zaleski.
One of my favorite essays in the anthology is "Word Hoard" by B.K. Loren about the decade he spent being unable to comphrend words. It is a great story with Loren illustrating throughout the essay how important words are to convey our desires and needs.
Once, I was aphasic. The condition lasted, to some extent or another, nearly ten years. When I came back to words I came back like a lover who'd had a mistaken affair. Once the damage is done, it's done. But there's a carefulness that follows. You don't take things for granted. You speak from the soles of your feet, a current of meaning running through your body, each word carrying with it is history and the intimate mouths of your ancestors speaking it. Their lips touch yours as the word leaves you.


jessi said...

I love children's books! Have you read John, Paul, George, and Ben? It's the founders of the country, Beatles-style. :)

I agree about wanting to read Gaiman's books. I just picked up the first volume of Sandman because I've already read his novels. I haven't read The Dangerous Alphabet, though, aside from flipping through it at the book store.

N.Vasillis said...

I love John, Paul, George, and Ben!! It's one of my favorite children's books. I read the first volume of the Sandman comics and had nightmares for a while. I love the character, Dream. I hope you like it.