I Want The Magic Back.

I learned how to read when I was young; my mother says I was 4. I had those books with the records attached, and I used to listen to the books and follow along on the page. It was my favorite thing to do.

I figured out, at some point, there were words everywhere. It was magic, like the whole world had conspired just to give me words to read. I read everything: the instructions on the toothpaste which I never understood (“Start from the bottom and squeeze as you go up.” What did that even MEAN?), the back of my cereal box, the signs on the roads wherever we went, the free circulars, magazines at the doctors’ office, my dad’s Stephen King and Lord of the Rings books. I took out TONS books from the library and spent my summers reading.

Before fourth or fifth grade, my library had a competition – the kid who read the most books won. You had to keep track of each book you read and write it down. I won that summer.

Books are my happy place. I love the way a book opens up to you and whisks you away into the author’s world, where anything – or nothing – is possible. I love that the author can create a world out of nothing but his or her imagination. I love that books are like secret passageways to new perspectives and possibilities. And I love that books are always there, waiting for you to discover them.

So this reading deprivation exercise this week is really hard. I hate it.

Except: I have a confession.

I’ve actually not read many books over the past few months.

Mostly what I read now are blogs and Huffpost articles and random posts I click on through Facebook and mail and emails and work-related stuff and workout posts on DailyMile and any article that deals with Prince William and Kate Middleton (because I’m a complete junkie with stuff about them) and recipes and news articles that show up on Facebook that might interest me.

The bulk of the reading I do is the modern day equivalent of reading the back of the toothpaste container; it’s a mindless consumption of other people’s words.

In that way, this week  has been good for me.

I still hate it. I feel edgy and angry and grumpy.

And also? I don’t actually feel any more creative. I did write yesterday, but it was like pulling teeth to get the words to flow. And all I can think is, I’m not good at this anymore.

(Was I ever good at it? I don’t even know. What I know is when I was younger I loved writing, possibly as much as I loved reading. My words seemed to flow easily and inspiration was everywhere. Probably because I wasn’t held hostage to my Inner Critic like I am now. I miss the feeling of nailing a poem, really finding that one image that smacks you over the head with truth. I miss having an arc of a short story and being able to fill in the details without overthinking it.)

Anyway. I’m halfway through this week and one third of the way through the book. And though I am fighting it right now, I can feel things changing. So I’m going to stick it out and see where it takes me.

(And dammit, I’m reading a book on Sunday. A WHOLE book.)


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One Response to I Want The Magic Back.

  1. Turia says:

    I really, truly could not do this. Give up blogs and facebook and online stuff- yes, absolutely.

    But actual books? No way. Reading is part of my mental health management. Even this year, when my reading pace has slowed to an absolute crawl when compared with the first half of last year, I’ve found bits and pieces of time here and there to read novels and parenting books and nonfiction. I need it, no matter how busy I am, or how little I’m writing myself (and I know lots of authors say that if you read too much you’ll never write, but for me it’s also about controlling anxiety).

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