The joy of reading

Early 17th century painting by Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn

Too often, in the grand scale of things, I’m obsessed with doing, creating, achieving, finishing. So much so that when otherwise idle, as I’ve felt over the past day or so, and when challenged to ‘read a book,’ I find myself explaining, ‘but that’s not really doing anything!” Err, apparently, wrong!

There are four books, novels, that I have on my bedside table, which I need to read. It’s hard to read, to receive the creative thoughts of another, when you’re in the throes of creating yourself. In the throes, yourself, of creating. Either interpretation is apt. So I’ve put off the reading experience until I get my finished trilogy to market. I think I’ve got everything sorted now, so the vast empty space of ‘what to do now?’ spreads out before me.

And so today I shall curl up, slouch down, sofa-surf and imbibe deeply of the first of the four target novels. To be fair, I’m half-way through and exclaiming: ‘This is what real novelists do, how they write, and how can I ever hope to achieve such heights?’ I always forget that I’m reading perhaps the last novel of a creative’s output, and I’m only just at the beginning of my own odyssey in the arts.

But by sitting quietly with the book, already I’ve had an idea for pursuing the historical angle of my next project, ‘Keep Me in Your Heart,’ that gladdens my own heart. Perhaps we can make an investigative journey, from the battlefields around Albert and back to Amiens, from whence my young protagonist and his lover-rescuer travel west towards Brittany. We could travel in our ancient motorhome, comfortably pushing into the setting sun, while we do the practical research that will underpin the historical fiction. I know now how long the gestation of a hundred or so thousand words can take, and I know that I can last the journey, creatively, as long as the physical side holds out. And what a profound feeling it could be, to travel in the fictional footsteps of my émigré hero. Almost as if we’re making the journey for him, or for the young couple embarking on their new life together.

So while I set these matters aside as it were, park them in a compartment where they’re only just accessible, my mind can be eagerly appreciating the writing odyssey of somebody else. Reading for pleasure, I can dive deep into a different story.

And still exhort myself that I’m actually ‘doing’ something. That has to be a very special kind of joy.

2 responses to “The joy of reading”

  1. Larry, Re: your next book. I say press on my friend. I say “Press On” in the same way I tell friends over here who are my age & still working, “More power to you.” I had plans to be working post-retirement but ‘the best laid plans …’  I cannot fully appreciate the creative process that begins with research for your next project but wish you the best. Is life in the village living up to your expectations? Spring began here but now those who set out plants need to protect them from freezing & near freezing temps. Yesterday people were stuck on the PA Turnpike around Pittsburgh due to a tremendous snow storm. Only rain around Lancaster which began last night.

    PS. Which of your books do you recommend if I read only one of your books?


    1. Thanks Henry, and commiserations on the ‘best laid plan’! I’m learning all too quickly how much our health underpins everything we might seek to do. Incidentally, I’m sure you know that was a line from Robbie Burns’ ‘Ode to a Mouse’ which the ploughshare has driven away from her nest, and thereby finds her plans, like many, have gann aft a’gley. We ourselves seem to live in a perpetual state of re-making plans, to be honest.

      Anyway, hmmm, which one of the trilogy would I recommend if you only want to really get into one? I imagine every writer would say, the one I’m working on, and failing that, the one I’ve just finished! It seems that with every new effort, if one is conscientious and not just cranking along in a formula, the writing should be getting better. It really does help to have a feel for how the novel might progress, which it seems kind of comes with practice. So for example, I’d like to think that Daughters in Eden is more of an easier and more compelling page-turner than the first two ones, though I’d confess that the first one, now called Shrouded Valley and situated in the middle of the trilogy, was something I really poured my heart into. In Daughters, I’ve tried to develop a narrative arc that resolves a few things, novelistically. I hope I’ve succeeded, but I haven’t had that much feedback so as to be confident, really. I can say that it was a lot of fun to write! Also, if you wanted to wait for ‘Keep Me in . . .’ well that might be a year on down the road.

      Keep thinking, anyway, and best wishes


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: