It’s been nearly sixteen years since I dared called myself a “fledgling writer”. It used to be that I could sit down and verbal vomit onto the screen a complete story. I was a pantser. But now, writing is a bit more tricky.
Which is why I am turning back toward reading to jump start my writing. But reading isn’t always easy these days either. There is the required reading for work, the rereading of texts for work, and the endless emails, texts, tweets, and posts. But it surprised me how challenging it can be to fall into the flow of a novel.
I will put the book by the bedside, intending to spend a chunk of time reading before sleeping. Instead, I will spend a chunk of time on social media, checking out the latest news stories, and be half asleep by the time I put down the ipad/phone and pick up the novel.
Why is that? I know that Nicholas Carr’s THE SHALLOWS tries to explain that Google just might be “making us stupid” by encouraging us to skim and scan, to not read. But it frustrates me that when I think I want to sit down to read, I struggle.
Last summer I tried a new approach. I picked up a book that I loved as a teenager: Anne Mc Caffrey’s Dragonflight. For a week, I fell in love with reading again, yearning for the extra free moments when I could slip into the world of Pern and ride a dragon alongside Lessa in my imagination. And it was interesting how things that did not stand out for me as a thirteen-year old reader, did as a midlife mommy.
More importantly, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had fallen into the narrative’s flow and allowed myself to experience the story. For a little while, I had forgotten all the day to day challenges. Reading in the flow was cathartic!
And all it took was carving out some time, choosing the right book, and slowing down. Slowing down might have been the magic ingredient in the fairy dust that transported me to Pern.
It was a healing experience.
Upon finishing Dragonflight, I felt compelled to research about Mc Caffrey’s life and her inspiration. Then I marveled at how dragons are once again an important part of our culture. And at last, the single sandy grain of a story began to form in my head.
Reading is breathing for a writer. And I am still working on falling into the flow of others narratives. But when it happens, it’s extraordinary.