I could pretty much read mysteries and thrillers all the time but I know reading widely and outside my genre will help me become a better reader and writer. This past month, despite cramming in a lot of writing, I managed to read a couple books worth mentioning.
I think writing and writers can come in all shapes, sizes, genres, and varieties. I don’t think there is any one book or workshop or group that is going to magically help you become a better writer. I do believe two things about writing. First, it is a craft and needs to be practiced. Second, to be a writer, you need to have a love of reading.
Writing is much like any other craft. It’s not exactly hard to do though it is hard to do well. Writing a book isn’t necessarily hard it just takes time. String enough dedicated, persistence days spent on anything, a book or a painting or training for a marathon and you will reach your goal.
Last year, on a whim at the library, I picked up one of John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books. I’d read a lot of Prey books but hadn’t read any from his other series. I’m glad I did. I loved them and quickly blew through five more in a race to catch up. They’re great.
But I also started to wonder what I else I might be missing out on.
There are some conversations you are just never ready to have as a parent. It all might seem easy or straightforward when you are reading those child advice books, but actually having the conversation on a Wednesday night when your six year old is crying? Not so simple. You just muddle through, try to tell the truth, and do the best you can.
A family friend passed away suddenly this week and, while the girls have had a few family members and pets die before, this was the first time that Ally was old enough to have a framework to better understand and ask the tough questions. Like I said, we muddled through. We finally were able to get her to stop crying and go to sleep by agreeing to a verbal contract to take care of her two “lovies” if anything ever happened to her.
It’s been on my mind, maybe with my own birthday clicking off another year soon, for the rest of the week. If she’d sent me an Outlook invite that she’d start asking life’s ultimate questions on Wednesday night at 8, here’s what I might have said with a little forethought:
We always live with death by our side so don’t take anything for granted and try to appreciate each moment. Life is always changing. So often we live our lives like we’ll live forever but as soon as we remember that life is fleeting we find ourselves letting go of the distractions and being more present for one another. Try to find peace with the impermanence. If we can remember this and carry it with us, it won’t be morbid or sad, it will bring a lightness and ease and comfort.
Final tally, or close to it, I might squeeze in another book or two, for books read in 2018: 82. I read a lot of commercial thrillers this year, even for me, as I wanted to really try to dig in and look at the mechanics of the genre for my own writing.
This was also the year I took a break from podcasts and tried more audiobooks, mostly while I walked Dash. I ended up listening to 21 books on audio, which accounts for the jump in total books read. I’m usually around 60 or so, about a book a week on average.