They (the ubiquitous and amorphous they) say that reading makes you a better writer. I agree. Reading has allowed me to see the world in ways I hadn’t before, to find the beauty and significance in the everyday, to discover new ways of expressing what I see. All inspiration for my own writing.
However, I sometimes get so absorbed in someone else’s story that I forget to work on my own. For instance, lately my head has been full of the theme from Swan Lake (most likely spurred by the “Black Swan” references still cropping up because of the ballerina moment that happened at New York Fashion Week) and the book I’m currently reading, Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion. On the surface, the two have nothing in common. One is a ballet about an enchanted swan and her thwarted attempt at love (and eventual suicide); the other about Hollywood in the 60s and the horrors accompanying everyday life in that time. Both are beautiful – the music and dance, the significance and emotion felt in everyday moments. Both are terrifying. So I’ve become absorbed in the sublime – the combination of beauty and terror – and how the sublime is found in the everyday.
Not exactly a normal preoccupation.
Hopefully once I finish Play it as it Lays, I’ll be able to focus on other things. But I admit I’m relishing (just a bit!) this preoccupation of mine. Getting lost in another world, another time, another anything is what makes a story so satisfying. I can say with certainty that my next house (ok, tiny flat somewhere) will be filled with bookshelves. There will be large windows to sit by, and a cozy chair to curl up in with a book and a cup of coffee inside, and a chaise on a balcony or porch, if I am lucky enough to have one, to read on outside. The kitchen table will be home to a pile or two of books. There will be ample space to sit and get lost. Otherwise, I haven’t decided what the place will look like.
Though my current preoccupation has stalled my writing, I have a feeling that it will eventually inspire me to create something new. Maybe by getting lost in another’s story, I am learning how to get the reader to lose him or herself in my stories. Maybe not. But either way, getting lost could lead me somewhere wonderful. Or at least to several scratched out and reworked sentences in my notebook. Have to start somewhere – time to hit the books.