Friday, July 6, 2012

From the Battlefront: A Few Thoughts and a Favorite Poem

The deadline demons are attacking me again. I have a major freelance project that has to be completed by next Friday, and I’m losing the battle to the demons. This particular project definitely requires coloring inside the lines, and I keep veering into the margins with bright scarlets and deep blues that are agony to remove. Sometimes the only thing to do is trash what I have finished and start over. All this is made more painful by a new project, one I’m eager to do, teasing me from the corners of my mind, and by all the things I don’t have time for right now: lunch with friends, online conversations, games with the grands, and reading. Bookshelves and ereader are loaded with books I’ve read that I need/want to review, books with tantalizing opening and closing chapters that I’ve stolen time to read, and books just released or in ARC form that I’ve longed to read for ages.

Having so little time to read is making me irritable and surly, the way I get when it’s been too long between meals and my blood sugar is too low. All this has set me to thinking about how important reading is to me. Yes, I’m a writer by profession and inclination. But being a reader is even more central to who I am. There’s a Gwendolyn Brooks poem that I love which says so well all that books are to me.

Books Feed and Cure and Chortle and Collide

In all this willful world
of thud and thump and thunder
man's relevance to books
continues to declare.

Books are meat and medicine
and flame and flight and flower,
steel, stitch, and cloud and clout,
and drumbeats on the air.

Books do all those things for me. They sustain, heal, warm, inspire, beautify, strengthen, connect, reflect, empower, and communicate—and more.

I may have to bury myself in my writer’s cave and continue my battle with the deadline demons for another eight days. I’ll skip meals and lose sleep as the struggle goes on. But in the end, probably quite literally at midnight on July 13, I’ll upload the last article. And just as soon as I manage a few hours of sleep and a cup of Greek yogurt, I’m going to curl up in my favorite chair with some of the books that have been calling to me. 

I need to read in order to metamorphose from the bear I’ve become before I’m ready for real life and online connection and conversation.

Do you define yourself as a reader? What are some of the books that have been most important in your life?

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