In 5th grade, just like every year of elementary school, we had a chunk of time reserved each day for SSR - Sustained Silent Reading. (Also called DEAR - Drop Everything And Read.) This particular year, we would take five or ten minutes at the end of SSR time and write a paragraph or two about what we read, what we liked, what we thought would happen, etc.
This was, hands down, my favorite part of the day. We had so many interesting books in our classroom library! About kids who lived in Trinidad or had been kidnapped or went back in time to stop Lincoln's assassination! I loved reading these books so much that I started to take them home with me, and sometimes I loved them so much that I would go home and read them until I finished the book. Soon this became a regular thing, and my teacher noticed that in my reading journal I only had one entry about each book, since I was averaging a book a day. Because of this, I wasn't getting to reflect a lot on plot devices, character development, etc., and it kind of defeated the point of the whole activity. So my 5th grade teacher and I decided that the books I read during SSR should be classroom-only books, and I could take other books home that I could read whenever I wanted. (I wonder how often a teacher has to tell a kid to read less.) At the end of the year, I got the "Class Bookworm" award because I read the most books out of the whole class.
|Reading Harry Potter, age 10.|
In college, when I was meeting lots of new people, I never knew what to say when people would ask what my hobbies were. I would think, "Who has time for hobbies between school, work, reading, and talking to my friends about our emotions?!" And it always sounded a little weird to say, "Oh, I just read... a lot." For whatever reason, I didn't think others would think it was valid that I spent most of my time with modern literature.
In the past couple of years, that question has gotten easier to answer. In part because I've collected a few more hobbies - running, climbing, making kale chips, and even enjoying the occasional NBA game.* But I've also realized that reading is an awesome hobby and I am 100% okay with spending most of my time with my nose in a book.
|Reading next to the Middle Fork in Idaho (photo by Dea Brayden!)|
And then there's writing. Something I have a more complicated relationship with. Like reading, I have been writing nearly all my life in some way or another. I have journals dating back to 1998, when I decided that I would either be a therapist, a photojournalist, or a novelist when I grew up. (I actually didn't know that the word "photojournalist" existed, so I made up my own - "writographer.") I still love writing letters, poetry, and (most) essays. I happily attended a college that was very writing-intensive.
|Eric found this books with his name on it in Powell's.|
"What if I'm not a good enough writer?"
"Why would anything I have to say be interesting enough for other people to want to read?"
"What the heck would I even write about?"
"Can I write that much?"
"How would I find the time to write a book?"
Some of these questions can be answered or dismissed logically; however, when faced tackling with one's life ambitions and passions, the brain does not always listen to logic.
One of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, wrote her first novels and short stories while living in Tuscon. Naturally, a lot of her writing alludes to the desert. So it seemed fitting that when Eric and I decided to move to Santa Fe, I should follow in Ms. Kingsolver's footsteps and start seriously pursuing writing, in hopes that I would draw inspiration from the desert as well.
|Assisi likes to "help" me write.|
Since the idea of writing a novel is still daunting to me, I'm starting with short stories, and I've been reading a lot of short stories. While I have read dozens over the past month, I have only written 3/4 of a story. And it's not very good. But I think to get rid of all the anxiety I have about writing, I have to just write a lot, and accept that while not everything I write is going to be the best, some of it could turn into something good.
|A quote from Cicero - definitely something Eric & I live by.|
* Clearly Eric's influence.