Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Synchronicity? Or the opposite?

Reading. No reading. Is this synchonicity or its opposite -- the Devil's work? (If creativity is from good orderly direction, is the devil the opposite? Detaining Environmental Vices I Like?) I have to admit that I haven't been much of a reader in recent years. Oh, Yahoo News and the paper, scanning Southern Living and email newsletters. But not really reading -- airport books (you know, the Baldacci and Patterson thrillers you pick up to fill the time on an airplane) and the chick lit that often pops up in my book club. I haven't been immersing myself in the salve of words that I know revives me. So...last week I was in San Francisco for my husband's birthday. On our way to dinner we walked past City Lights books -- where Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti hung out...read Howl OUT LOUD. Changed language (and maybe the world). We stopped in and looked around, and it didn't occur to me until the next day that I should have bought a volume of Beat poetry, little of which I've EVER read. Then, on the way to the airport, we ran across a little bookstore in Sausalito where I found a book by Roger Angell, fabulous sports writer (not THAT kind of sports writer. He writes about sports for The New Yorker.) And found out (how did I not know know this?) that he's the stepson of EB White, my favorite essayist of all time. I used to keep White's One Man's Meat at my bedside like a child's storybook. Angell's book, Let Me Finish, is about his growing up years, and he talks about life and White. So suddenly, I'm reading fabulous words, feeling inspired, and now AW cuts me off. God or devil?
Maybe that's what works about AW...you decide to go looking for God in circumstances, when either choice would have been an equally logical one. One of Angell's articles is about how EB White (Friends called him Andy. I love that.) suffered from dementia in his last few years. Wham...I was angry. That's what took my Mom. Damn God, damn a senseless universe that allows ends like this.
I also know that I need to be writing about my mom and dementia -- not because anybody needs to read it. Or, at least that's not what matters right now. I need to write about it to talk to myself about it -- because the books and talking to other people haven't done any good. Still angry, crazy angry. So maybe that's what I need to do this week -- write. Maybe it's just morning pages style writing...get it out. Maybe I can find some structure or balance. Maybe I can overcome the feeling that I have to write something that will help someone -- maybe I just have to write to help myself.
So I choose God, not Devil in the assignment Write...don't read. Write...don't read. Write...don't read.
Anything in anyone else's head like that? Paint...don't read (Elle Decor). Plan a trip...don't read (those dozen emails that have popped up while you were reading this). Finish that work project...don't read (so you'll have time to do what you want instead of procrastinating over a work that pays the bills). Say no...don't read (that email from someone who wants you take on a charity job that doesn't tug at your heart). I hope this week opens up a window for you. Ok, in all honesty, that would be nice. But all I REALLY hope is that it opens up a window for me. Now stop reading, huh?


  1. Hello, Lynn!
    Well, first off -- I read you. As in Avatar: I see you. Hear you. Loud and clear. And second, I miss you! Your clear voice -- (always affirmative and encouraging as I remember it) sounding more wistful and anguished today, but that's what this crazy week is about, I guess.

    I haven't really got the hang of it: a week of NOT reading. O c'mon!

    I confess, I'm not taking the NO READING RULES of engagement with the Artist's Way all that seriously. Mostly, because I'm always scrambling for words in one way or another. I don't live with an ever-flowing font of well formed thoughts, just ready to tap like a vein in order to "write" -- writing simply defined here as the ability to set words down on paper/keyboard/screen for others to read. (not to be confused with journaling and morning page calisthenics - sp? see? case in point!)

    To write, I have to stop. Think. Read. Procrastinate. Reenergize. Reorganize. Gulp. Gasp. Read. Respond.

    Reading is like breathing. At least to me. So I'm not holding my breath this week, waiting for some epiphany in media deprevation. Though I am practicing some mindful, zenlike breathing exercises -- reading and responding to your post right here.

    My father,who was never much of a reader as I recall when I was growing up, took to voracious reading in his retirement. By cruel irony, he lost his eyesight to macular degeneration, one of a series of debilities that began both my parents' long and treacherous journey into dementia. Yes, it's possible to be crazy angry, watching the ravages of the disease take those you love. So open that window. Breathe in. Write out.
    You have earned the right.

  2. Thanks, Viv. A good reminder. I have to admit, I'm not going cold-turkey either...in fact, I'm working on a tagline for a little client right now and scanning other sources for inspiration. But I realize that some of the stuff I read is just avoidance...so I'm making a conscious effort to stop that stuff. Thanks for the comments on dementia. I just don't get what God might have had in mind with this one...and in choosing whether to stop believing or be mad, it doesn't help to live in a "red state" where people who profess faith are often selfish, bigotted moralizers. Yeh, I guess I have some wistful angst issues...and I think maybe that's what AW is about for me this time through...seeing the world in a different way.
    I miss you too -- and your voice. Ever elegant...in both meanings of the word.

  3. Ah, and this is the time of day when I get seriously reading-deprived. The Fall Down & Read Hour. When it's hopefully too soon to start dinner and too late to accomplish anything significant. Time to space out and fall in between some pages.

    Poor Tuckie is croaking over a book she wants to finish and pass along. Lynn just got into a book that engages her enthusiasm and makes her furious with God, all within the same binding. Viv needs to read as part of her creative process. Here we all are and it's only Tuesday!

    I just started rereading the Sue Graftons beginning with A is for Alibi about Thursday of last week. I'm now about 40 pages into F is for Fugitive and I still don't remember much at all about the first time I read these books.(Hmmm. Wonder why. Speed kills, maybe.) Except that I really, really like them.

    I started chasing after Kinsey Milhone because the agent who was passingly interested in my novel sent me a fabulous rejection letter (who knew such a thing could be?) and suggested that maybe I was rambling a bit in the second two chapters. The jury is out on that amongst my staff of readers, but I'm asking "WWKD?" Or maybe what would Sue do. She'd write tighter, it appears.

    But it seems serendipitous that just as I get onto a real reading tear (I also read the new Jack Reacher between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, 2 a.m.) I hit a big old gritty brick Reading Deprivation Week wall. Ow. I had this whole conversation about "Well, I NEED to read for my WORK...." The truth is, I need to write for my work and I've read enough Kinsey to prime the pump. (I really need my heroin so I can play jazz piano on Bourbon Street too. It just one excuse after another with me.)

    I'll tell you what, though. It helps to have all y'all, Red State Girl and Detroit Woman, to angst along with me. I feel your pain. I feel my pain. It feels a lot better in a crowd.

    And all those kind things you said to each other, I say those, too. Thanks for being out there. And in here. A.