To write, I must read.
This has long been the understanding between myself and the words that are both my profession and my pastime. I’m not sure precisely the ratio (1:2? some inane fraction?), but I believe with certainty that there is one of words consumed to words excreted onto the page by my hand. (Lovely visual, no?) Consonants are my calories.
Burnout tends to occur when I have exhausted my reservoir of words. An evening immersed in literature will almost organically lead to a morning rife with wordplay, the turns of phrase spinning like a top across my desk and the prose pouring perfectly from the points of my, ummm, you know, fingers.
Ah, but here I am, exhausted for want of words.
Writing well and writing quickly have been the foundation of my professional life for more than a decade. It is the reason I’m employable at all. It is one of only a very small handful of things that I would profess to do well. (Driving and fettuccini alfredo also are on that list.)
On many occasions, the prospect of curling up in some quiet corner with a book would strike me as it would most people: incredibly boring. But then, this is not one of those times. There is a couch calling my name – one with no video game controllers, no television or DVD remotes. To everything there is a season, and this season was made for books.
Part of my problem, unfortunately, is that it takes me an incredibly long time to read anything. I read very slowly. I write far faster than I read. I watch my wife tear through books (albeit trashy ones) at an alarming rate while I ponder over my (far more dense) matters. I can settle in for hours with a book and make very little progress in advancing the bookmark through the pages. This leads to frustration, and leads me to leave a tome obscuring the digital display on my alarm clock by the bed while I try to ignore it.
Another aspect to reading is the paradox of choice. My wife and I both are bibliophiles. Our friends hate to help us move because they are aware of the great many extremely heavy boxes of books that must be shuttled from one residence to another. Since I read so slowly, choosing a title is selecting a partner that will be inseparable from me for months at a stretch. So I’ve a backlog of books that I’ve just been meaning to get around to.
The weekend approaches when I’ll have little more to do than lay around a hotel room and read. The hotel is the Crown Plaza, so I’m hoping it’s at least tastefully appointed. My wife has a review course that she will be taking there before she takes her nurse practitioner boards, and will be occupied most of the weekend with that, leaving me to my own devices in the room.
I’m a little beyond midway in Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America.” I doubt I’ll finish it this weekend. Especially since I plan to revisit the shelf and select another book to take with me. Nothing against Mr. Roth, of course – his book has earned all the accolades that it’s received.
But, distance makes the heart grow fonder.