Tag Archives: bookstores

Book Addiction. Are you a Pro or an Amateur?

I have a problem. Book buying has become an addiction. Another shelf has been added to the already limited wall space in our open-concept home. The new shelf puts it up to five bookshelves in our house. Two and a half are dedicated to fiction, one to children’s books, one to spiritual-minded or self-enrichment books and half of a book shelf is dedicated to poetry plus a couple of poetry baskets on the floor by the fireplace . This doesn’t include the books that are stacked on coffee tables, side tables and night stands. Books take over my house. But you know what? It makes me happy. Yes, I did say I have a whole shelf dedicated self-enrichment and spiritual books and many of those are Eastern philosophy.  Therefore, I get that ultimately “things” cannot make you happy. However, perhaps it is the ideas in the books, the connection to the authors on some level, the creativity and inspiration that pours out with every inky word. When it is a rainy day environmentally or internally, I head to a book store or library for solace (Libraries are the best because books can follow me home every time without any bank account guilt!). Two of the independent bookstores in Calgary have actually curbed my addiction by encouraging me to hold books until I have read a couple ha ha! I get asked that a lot, have you read any of the books you have bought? I am reading all the time, usually twelve on the go at one time. Here’s the thing I am beginning to notice: Although I have a library in my house with so many to choose from when I finish one, the books find me at the right time.

Exhibit A: Overflowing bookcase

Exhibit A: Overflowing bookcase

 

The Writer’s Midwife is in the process of growing wings and expanding to offer online courses by the summertime. Currently, I am enrolled in b-school and it begins tomorrow. It is an eight week online business course that helps you launch your online business. We were sent bonus material to begin our journey and one of the things Marie Forleo talked about in one of her videos was the book The War of Art  by Steven Pressfield. Ding! I knew I had that book somewhere! I had never even cracked it open but I had it for years. Twenty minutes of searching and I found it! I read the part Marie was talking about on being and amateur vs. a professional. This section of the book hit me between the eyes. Basically, Pressfield defines a professional as someone who shows up everyday. I show up to my mat everyday to do yoga. That’s great for my mind, body and soul, but writing? Writing and procrastination go hand in hand for many and I am one of them…until now. I am tired of being “The Writer’s Midwife” but cannot birth myself on the page day after day. I have been an amateur. Now, I am showing up to the page every day. This blog doesn’t even count. It needs to be journaling or creative. Moving me towards the poetry book I so desperately want to publish.

When I teach yoga, I highlight whether or not the practitioners are cheating on their mats. Are they actually lowering themselves to hover in Chattaranga Dandasana? Or are they making it look like they are as they swoop into Upward dog when it was about to require  a lot of strength? The same can be applied to the page and I will not allow myself to cheat by blogging or making notes about a book I am reading. While those things are important, they will not get me closer to the book I want to birth.

Pictures taken by Jamie Hyatt Photography

Pictures taken by Jamie Hyatt Photography

I had the amazing opportunity to meet and hug and hang out with Chris Hadfield. Just being around him “lifts” you up. He is the hero you want to meet. After meeting him and reading his book, he taught me a valuable lesson in turning dreams to manifestation. From the time he was a child, he asked himself whether an astronaut would make the decisions he would make. Would an astronaut eat ice cream or broccoli? He ate broccoli. Would an astronaut sit on the couch eating potato chips and watching t.v. or would he/she run around the block? Hadfield would run around the block. Would a writer answer the phone in the middle of  a writing session? Or would they ignore it? Would the writer write after the kids go to bed or watch t.v.?

It all depends on whether you want to be a pro or an amateur. I’m pretty sure I have my answer.

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Read Like a Writer

My favorite places on earth are bookstores.  However, it didn’t always start this way. When I was a child, I had a mother and a grandmother who spent hours in bookstores leaving me to my own devices in the kid’s section. I remember the excruciating boredom and I was always perplexed at how they could want to pile on as many books at the cash register as they could manage. Finally, as an adult, I get it. I can’t stay away. I always ask myself why I do or feel the things that I do. I think I may have figured it out. Once I got past the playful childhood stage, my passion became words. It was always there in whispers and I can even hear it in the recording of my three-year-old self reading nursery rhymes. Still, why do I have an obsession to the point where my walls and shelves cannot contain the volumes I have? Yes, books open up your world, but my addiction goes beyond this.

Walking through the familiar aisles in search of more titles to tantalize me, it hit me: I read to write. I am an avid reader, but I am first and foremost a writer. I would probably crumble if I did not keep writing. I have always reached for books that are written well. I am thoroughly disappointed in books that do not utilize poetic writing. An author could have the most fascinating plot and characters, but they do not interest me unless the language is juicy. One of my favorite books is God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Besides my mild obsession with India, I devoured this book because she managed to take the most exciting words in the English language and put them in never-before-seen combinations. The way she wrote made me look at things differently. In fact, I will never look at orange pop the same again and will probably never drink it…ever. The reason is not because she told me about the abuse one of her main characters suffered in the name of an orange drink. It was because of what she showed me through the senses. She wrote it so well that I now have an association with that event and that drink as if it happened to someone I know. This is the power of good writing. The old writerly advice, “show, don’t tell” isn’t just there to drive writers crazy. It is there because it will affect the writer to the core, if you are able to master it.

 

Kim Addonizio, in her book, Ordinary Genius, puts it bluntly when she says, “if you don’t read, your writing is going to suck.” Books are your best teachers if you want to be a writer. No mentor on the planet can help you write well if you do not read. I am applying this to myself when it comes to poetry. I consider myself a poet, but I am a major slacker when it comes to reading it. I do struggle with re-visioning a poem, so I am taking Kim’s advice and reading every poem I can get my hands on. Many times, I hear myself chanting that I wish I could write like them. Eventually, I will. Eventually my poetic voice will override what I have read. However, I will have carried pieces of their mastered voices into my own craft.

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Filed under Books, The Writing Process