If you have been reading this blog for a while, or you know me outside of the blogosphere, you probably know that one of my passions is writing. While I do write on this blog, the main focus has been visual art. Well, I’ve decided that I would like to start doing a little more writing, and I though that a great way to do it would be to start writing a weekly post on things that inspire me, in the form of a longer personal essay.
This may not seem like a big change, and hopefully it will just flow with the natural rhythm of this blog, but it will also give you, the reader, something more to think about, enjoy, and use as inspirational fuel for your life. All of these posts will be tagged and titled “Inspiration Digest” for you to find easily. I will plan to post them by the end of the day every Sunday, with some allowances for weekend trips, etc.
Since one of the big points of this is to exercise my writing muscles, I thought there was no more fitting first topic than reading and writing: two great sources of inspiration to me. So, here it goes—enjoy!
I can’t remember a particular event that slingshotted me into the world of words, but there was one summer when I clearly remember moving from not liking to read, to inhaling books. I was ten. It was the summer before sixth grade, and there was a long list of books I was supposed to read before entering junior high in the fall. I can’t even remember the name of the first book, but I can remember the feeling. Hot, humid nights sitting in the wind of a fan, the cool sheets of my parents’ bed where I would hide out because it was cooler than my bedroom.
The girl in the book was young like me, and I dropped into that book and followed her around. There was that urge in my belly, pushing me through each page—that feeling where you almost start skimming because you must know what happens, how it all ends up. You look from the clock, to the page, to the clock, as you cut into the night, traveling into that other dimension. After that summer, there was never a day when I wasn’t reading something.
Even before I became addicted to reading longer books, I was in love with poetry. Some Sunday nights, my family would read poetry around the dinner table, and I was always a dreamy, sensitive child, so it stuck with me. And in the end, poetry is what really did me in—by high school I was onto Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot, and my journal was never very far away. I was an odd and quiet type, and writing poetry was the main place I could be free and honest and fully myself, so every night before bed, nestled up against my window, I lived out my dreams through writing.
It’s funny to look back on that time because I didn’t know it then, but writing was what saved me. It was a need, maybe more important than breathing. I’m not sure how people made it through high school without writing—drugs, violence? I could scream in my journals, beat people up, shout and swear, without hurting anyone. I also started to really fall in love with words, and that feeling that happens when you read good writing—that arresting gasp that knocks the wind out of your heart when you read something so beautifully truthful, like the writer had visited inside your heart and recorded the whispers.
This is why I write, why I read—why I studied reading and writing in college, and why I keep reading writers like Isabel Allende, E.E. Cummings, John Updike, Anne Sexton, and Billy Collins. This is in large part, why I live—good writing can stop all clocks for me, as the words fall down on me like rain, arrive around me like a cool Spring breeze, and weave themselves into me.