Saturday, January 28, 2012

Immortal Words

Currently Reading: Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford (It is heavenly to read about Ireland again.)

Whew.. it feels wonderful to be blogging again. Even though it's time consuming and sometimes I can't think of what to write, the act of sitting at my desk in my pajamas, typing on my laptop while my husband tries to get the cat to stop clawing the couch is so satisfying. I always feel scholarly when I sit down to write my blog- I imagine myself back at school, cranking out history papers. Or I let my imagination wander as I create something out of nothing- I am Hermione Granger finishing an essay in the Gryffindor common room; Emily Dickinson, pacing her room in Amherst as words drop into her mind; or a monk in a scriptorium in medieval Ireland, reverently copying Scripture verses onto vellum. Ever since language was created, man (and woman) has had the need... no, the urge... to write. Like art and music, it is a great universal constant, regardless of time and place, language and culture. We breathe words and language every day- how natural that we should want to add our own words to the mix. I find it amazing how much power words have. First of all, they are immortal- one of the only things that survives when we do not. I am reminded of this every day at work when I read articles and letters by people whose bodies now rest in the earth. As I read their words... words they created... they continue to exist for a little while. It's beautiful really... and it's part of the reason I love what I do. I can learn so much from others' perspectives- from Rilke, Barbara Kingsolver, or even a letter to the editor from 1922.

I have always found that the best writers tend to be readers. Sure, it's helpful to know the definition of an adverb. Conjugating sentences can even be kind of fun (don't judge me). But learning about plot development and sentence structure and word choice in English class does nothing to create a good writer. Reading is the best way to learn how to write, just as watching someone demonstrate a skill is the best way to learn. (Try learning how to crochet from a book. It's hard.) I could preach until dawn about how reading broadens our minds, exposes us to new things, feeds our imagination, teaches us, challenges our deepest beliefs and prejudices. But there's something else that reading does. It allows us to articulate our emotions and our deepest thoughts in writing. Not all of us can publish books. Not many of us could make writing into a career. But when we write, we feed our soul for a little while. We contribute something to the world. We prove, through our own words, that we exist and we matter and we need to be heard. Because we read, we not only know how to express ourselves, but we also have a desire to.

I've discovered in the past two weeks how desperately I love writing this blog. And I will try fervently not to go this long again without sitting down to my keyboard. I have so much to write about the books I read lately, especially Sarah's Key and Lolita, as well as thoughts on libraries and the digital age that are still brewing within me. I'll be back soon. Here are some pictures that show a little glimpse of life lately....

Hobbes helping Nathan play our new Hogwarts Lego game.

Horses watching me as I drive to work. Don't worry, I stopped the car for the shot. :)

Barns are so photogenic.

Hobbes says "Good night."

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