Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Slump is Over

I broke out of my reading slump! It turns out when I lose interest in reading, all I have to do is read a non-fiction book. Somehow this jump starts my brain again and I'm ready for a new novel.

I'm reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova, an intimate portrait of a woman with Alzheimer's. Genova spent time on meticulous research and takes the reader into the mind of a cognitive psychology professor who's experiencing early-onset Alzheimer's. I just started reading it, so I can't ruin the ending for you.  It's one of the current selections of Bookworms Anonymous and I have a feeling it'll earn the Stamp of Approval.

Stay tuned to find out, or read it for yourself!

Monday, May 10, 2010

On My Bookshelf

The writing slump is also a reading slump, and the books are piling up. There are 20 books on my to-be-read shelf, and I ordered two more from this morning. I know I had no business ordering those two new books with twenty waiting obediently on the shelf, but the addiction is in control here.

At least my habit is legal, moral (assuming I don't read anything too trashy), non-fattening, enlightening and harmless. It also helps the economy because I definitely buy more than I borrow, and it goes well with coffee or wine. There's nothing better than curling up in the morning with a cup of coffee and a good book, unless it's curling up in the evening with a glass of wine and a good book. Aaahh.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It Doesn't Look Like I'm Writing...

I started writing my third book. It's roughly outlined and I have extensive disjointed notes designed to capture my bright ideas in cryptically phrased snippets. I already know the contents of the table of contents and the appendix. I even have a list of glossary words! But I'm at a standstill.

I haven't written more than a paragraph in the past week.

Of course, writing involves mental effort and angst and mind stretching brainstorming sessions. The physical act of writing or typing is the only visible proof that such activity has occurred, but it's difficult to measure the hours spent agonizing over each word in the first sentence before it is recorded for the first time (I'll revise it several times before exposing it to another reader).

I'm hoping this slump is actually a subconsciously energetic session of word jockeying and theme building, and tomorrow I'll start writing chapters at a time, so compelling I'll be unable to close the laptop and focus on the view outside the window. I'll probably wake up in the middle of the night to record some ephemeral notion, earmarked for inclusion in a specific passage. It's time to focus. Again, hoping the subconscious has been fine tuning all along.

A speaker at the seminar I recently attended in Madison, Wisconsin said (I'm paraphrasing): Every writer experiences an uncontrollable urge, a compulsion, a desire within their soul, to write. Every writer absolutely can not survive without writing and must do so every single day, except right now.

She went on to assure us our subconscious minds are working on our craft even when our fingers aren't, and we should relax and allow our powerful, magical minds to operate and eventually produce pitch perfect prose.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Short Nights

The other night I met a couple high school classmates for a drink at the bar. We've been out of school for 22 years now and as I gazed around the table at my dear old friends' faces I felt every one of those years. We're all sporting fine lines around our eyes and maybe a few gray hairs; a couple of us have gained a few pounds. As a group, we still look good and our recent or upcoming 40th birthdays provided enough conversation fodder to see us through the evening. Our memories of grade school and high school featured vastly disparate recollections--after hearing a couple stories circa 1986 I wondered if we had in fact attended the same school. We agreed we all blocked out certain memories, sometimes to make room for new ones and sometimes to alleviate humiliation.

There was a time when we said we were going out for a beer, we meant ten or eleven beers. Now when we meet for a beer we each have three or four, then leave the bar early to prevent hangovers. What will happen in twenty more years? Will we sip our Milk of Magnesia together? Maybe we will race our walkers to the bathroom.