Reading with a Pen: Life and Art
I do my best reading with a pen in hand. When I stumble across beautiful sentences, or wise quotes, or unforgettable scenes, I feel like I need to put down a flag of discovery so that one day (hopefully) I can return. Sometimes I underlines phrases, sentences, or entire paragraphs. Sometimes I draw smiley faces or exclamation marks in the margin. Sometimes I initiate my own conversation with the text by writing in questions or comments. (I am so thankful that Amazon built these capabilities into their Kindle!) Sometimes I move the entire conversation – quotes and all – into my journal so I will have room to explore. Too often, however, my marks just sit on the page – forgotten until or unless I pick the book back up again at some point in the future. I thought it might be fun to go searching for the flags I’ve planted around words in some of my favorite books.
Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.
Today’s quote comes from one of my top five favorite books on writing: Stephen King’s On Writing.
I am writer at heart. Whether I will ever be an official “author” with a published book all remains to be seen. I’ve read all kinds of advice on writing and blogging. Write every single day. Write a set number of words every day. Post to your blog on a regular, dependable schedule if you want to build a following. You get the general idea. It’s great advice. I try to abide by it . . . somewhat.
Two weeks ago, I began writing this series. I got some good feedback. I enjoyed sitting down every day to create each post. I actually wondered at one point if maybe I could keep it going for the month of July. Of course, I was on week one of a two week vacation. Week one was staycation – a laid back week of relaxation. Then came week two: a week with family at my parents’ house on the farm in the Upstate, enjoying my niece’s two precious children while she was on a mission trip. The kids are 3 and 1, full of energy and life, more precious than words can describe, fun (and funny) . . . and exhausting. (My hat is off to you Melinda! I had forgotten how all-consuming parenting toddlers is!) Except for a few text messages, I did not write a single word all week long. And you know what? That’s absolutely okay, because the purpose of my life is not just to enhance my writing. My writing is meant to enhance my life.
I believe that is what King was getting at with his statement above. Life isn’t a support system for art, in whatever form your art takes. It informs art. It inspires art. It is expressed through art. I can’t imagine life without art. But art is not the main thing. Life is. There was nothing more important than the people, the experiences, the learning, the love. It’s when we get really lucky that we find ways to share the gifts of life with others through art, enhancing their lives as well as our own.