Red - Column for 8/2

On Reading and On Writing

I just read Stephen King's cleverly titled new book on writing, . The first and most important thing I learned: Do NOT get hit by a van! Although I have squirmed in my seat many times while reading a painful scene, that section of the book was particularly squirm inducing. Given his well-honed descriptive powers Stephen King is quite capable of being devastatingly vivid. It is, however, even worse to read a scene like that when you know it's not fiction.

The book, other than the section mentioned above, was on improving writing, particularly fiction writing. One of the things that he suggested for budding writers was that they "read a lot and write a lot". I love this book. I'm all for someone telling me to read more. Whoopee! I love reading. Reading more is easy.

"Hi, my name is Red and I'm a book-a-holic."

I was once talking to a friend who said, " I look at a bookcase full of books I haven't read the way a wine connoisseur looks at a full wine rack."

I started laughing and said: "I look at a bookcase the way an alcoholic looks at full wine rack...thirty days later when I come up for air..."

It is almost a tautology that there are no books in the house I haven't read. They become a read book within 24 hours of coming home from the bookstore. I have learned through painful experience that I cannot stock up for a rainy day. It almost is like having an open bottle in the house. I think, "well, I'll just read a chapter to help me to sleep." (I can almost hear the pop of the cork as I slide the book off the shelf.) Unfortunately, books can't be poured down the drain, so at 3:00am I literally pass out with the book under my face. There is nothing sadder than a girl in the gutter with book print on her face. I seem to be particularly susceptible to going on a book binge when I'm under stress, and trying to write my dissertation turned out to be a particularly stressful activity. When I'm stressed out, I will read anything: cereal boxes, junk mail, old newspapers. It really is the moral equivalent of jonesing so hard you drink Scope ...but without the minty fresh breath.

At other times I have shown remarkable restraint. I have managed to almost totally ignore the fact that by moving in with my fiancÚ, I also managed to move in with several bookcases stuffed with things I haven't read. See... I'm not thinking about them...not at all. And they don't even bother me a bit. I've been so good at staying out of his bookshelves I've had plenty of time do lots of productive things read the books I bought to keep me out of his bookshelves.

Clever, hunh? Sometimes I'm so clever I astonish myself.

I've clearly got the "read a lot" part down - now all I have to do is the "write a lot" part. So I'd better sign off and get started on that "write a lot" thing....


Hey.... Sometimes I'm so clever I astonish myself.

Columns by Red