That’s my story…

by lulujane on January 10, 2011

I walked into our local Chapters/Indigo book store and paused for a moment. In doing so, I was aware of stillness.  It felt sacred, like I was in a church.  I observed the stillness and took time to enjoy this silent moment. I realized that a large bookstore or library  is a  space where the greatest assembly of artistic expression exists in one place.  Bearing their spines on multi-tiered display spaces or centre aisle showcases, thousands and thousands of books call to us. I think of the hours of preparation, research, hard work, sometimes years that can go into writing a single book.  Try multiplying that by the number of books on shelves or available on-line. Nowhere on this planet can anyone, regardless of financial wealth or social standing, stand in the centre of such a creative collection.

When an author shares words with another author, there must be an understanding between them, even if they don’t know each other, because of their shared experience.  Listening to some authors it sounds like it is a real effort to sit at their writing space and allow the flow of the words that hopefully, fill the page.  Some must twist themselves in knots or stand on their heads (I’m picturing visuals for these expressions) in painful yearning awaiting the burst of a few words nudging them forward on their page, while others admit that the words ‘just come through them’, as if they are receiving it from a source outside of themselves.

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I write on a very small, amateur scale and have no real concept of what it takes for someone to craft the writing of a book based on their knowledge, experience, education, imagination, humour, passion, research, frustration, commitment, creativity, etc.  I took a creative writing class a while back nudging me out of familiar comfort zones. I took our compassionate, well qualified and dedicated teacher’s instructions seriously.  Each week we had an assignment. In addition we were emailed copies of the writing assignments of every other student. We were to review the other students’ work with a view to offering only positive critique at our next class.

I took painstaking care with my writing, and the class helped me to explore deep emotional parts of myself to create results I was happy with.  The hard part was reviewing the other papers.  I read with enjoyment and sensitivity to the feelings of the writers when giving thought about how to positively critique some aspects of their papers.  They did the same with mine.  Doing this with such care took a lot of time.  I did not sign up for the next term because it was just too much work.  I worked a full time job and the one evening a week writing class turned into a full week of concentrated focus and stress for me.

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What I am trying to say is that when someone bares their soul to create a volume of work for public consumption,  a lot goes into it.  A sentence or a paragraph can be written, rewritten or moved many times before it flows with the rest of the narrative. Creating even a good short story would be a herculean task so I’m thinking that writers have guts, grit, determination, tenacity, courage, etc. to keep themselves on track, pushing through to the heart of the next paragraph, the next chapter – and then maybe onto the next book.

If one writes from memory or personal experience my sense is that the story can flow naturally, without having to resort to research except when memory needs refreshing. Mmmmm … better to write when young than when older… lots less to remember, and a shorter period of time to remember it for.

What is it about books?  Whenever I go to Costco I am drawn into the magnetic field of the book aisle where many titles of the same name are stacked deep and wide. I scan titles, run my hand over dust jackets as if by feeling the book I will be imbued with the flavour of what is inside. Oddly enough I hardly ever glance at cookbooks, salivate over cover photos, or touch their covers or pages.  Although great food prepared with love offer the diner a luscious experience, the language of recipes doesn’t evoke the feeling that I get from a good story or biography.  When I touch them I know there are lots of feeling characters, tumbling emotions, mystery, adventure tied up inside. I am told that this big box book department takes in a lot of dollars from those of us whose pulses race as we hurriedly push our shopping carts there, where lots of us just can’t resist the impulse shopping that the display demands.

And when I get my book home I don`t always read it, but I just had to have it. What is it about needing to have a book?  I have a lot of books on tables, in baskets, and shelves, in pretty well every room in my home. This includes a deep shelf  book unit in my cluttered  laundry room space. My favourite reading is a page turning story which can be a novel, biography or autobiography.  My attention span being what it is, the page turner quality helps me focus and stay with it.  And when I am into it, I devour it like a starving man would inhale his first next meal.  And then, hungry again, I start looking for the next good book.

If a book is hard to get into I leave my bookmark in place and search for another.  It is not uncommon to have five or six books on the go at the same time, none of which I am invested in fully.  And when it gets to be just too much and I feel scattered beyond description I close the covers on all of them and put them away, hoping to start back at square one, with just one book that calls my name.  And once I respond, it owns me.

I honour talented writers and their commitment to their work – for they give us much.  They entertain us, teach us, help us to find our way. For those who make it to the big time, whose work,  faces and names are recognized and applauded,  good for you.  And for those who have put their heart and soul into your work without reaping the glory of fame and financial reward, my wish is that you know that there is a public you have served well through the sharing of your gift.

In my home many exquisitely beautiful floral images seem always in my periphery, and even if I am not looking directly at them, giving them no immediate attention, I know that they have a positive effect on me.  Perhaps even if I don’t read all of the wonderful books I bring into my home, the creative energy expressed in, or that it took to create them, also has a positive effect on me.

That is my story, and I am sticking to it!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Gagnon 01.16.11 at 1:44 pm

Wow Linda, you sure do seem to think like me. I also have several books going at once, piled all over my home. I think it irritates my husband at times, he can’t understand how I can do this and still keep all the stories straight in my head and heart, but I do. I just finished the book ‘Infidel’ and would recommend it to anyone who would like to read about another culture, this one being about Somalia.
Keep up the stories Linda, they are real and very interesting.
Carolyn

Tiffanie 03.21.11 at 2:46 pm

Hi Aunt Linda,

I too am drawn to the book aisle at Costco (or any other store) and can absolutely loose myself in Chapters! I like to touch them all, read the backs and hardly ever leave without a new book 🙂 I usually have several on the go at one time too…my preference though is non-fiction…about topics close to my heart (like education) or something to learn more about (such as biographies, theology etc.).

Tiffanie

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