Confessions of an Embarassed Writer

Pile of Books

I collect books.

Not special pieces of literature, first editions or necessarily best sellers. When something catches my eye, when I’ve heard of a great story from an interview or friend, or when I’ve popped into the bookstore, opened a book and just can’t put it down, I buy it.

I start to read and then…distraction in life sets in.

This is terrible for a writer to admit. I am not proud of it at all. In fact I confess it is my greatest fault. I am a poor reader. Ugh! That looks even worse in print.

I used to blame it on the fact that I had so many novels and literature to read in university I couldn’t keep up. I hated that I had to read something someone else was compelling me to read and I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount.

Thus, I lost my interest in reading. I just couldn’t get into books again for a while after that. Well now going on close to 20 years, I guess I can’t blame university courses for my lacklustre effort these days.

It’s funny because the excitement is still there. I LOVE purchasing a new book! I look forward to cozying up in bed and getting lost in someone else’s writing. I especially enjoy supporting writers I get to meet in person. I love that feeling of being immersed, engrossed, transported.

But then something happens. I’m not actually sure what it is.

I don’t mean to say I am not reading at all. Right now I am simultaneously involved in William Joyce’s Guardian series and both Little Women and the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski with my two children respectively (all incredibly amazing!) And for me, I have been working away at Tina Fey’s memoir Bossypants. I don’t mean working away. It’s not a chore. She is a delightful read indeed and so effortlessly gifted at it too.

There is that age old saying (or is it just my mother telling me that), “In order to be a good writer you have to read!” I believe that. I honestly feel that the glimmers of insight and inspiration I pick up from those varied sources are definitely helping me articulate my own work.

I also recognize there must be a shift in my routine, a more disciplined approach to my time so that I may fit reading for enjoyment comfortably in to my day. Yes it will mean less TV, less surfing, less blaming parenthood duties etc. But I think I am feeling a change coming on.

Last month, as school began for the kids, I dug out all the books I had in my nightstand. I opened drawers and reached into the depths of my shelf to draw out all those hard covers and paperbacks that I had either intended on reading or actually did start. I wanted to witness with my own eyes my failure. I am sad to report there were 11 books, with fancy bookmarks lodged into the centre of at least 5.

I do not need a New Year’s resolution or a professor to push me. I’m not looking for advice from other writers on how to stay focused. I just want to be accountable to myself.

So I am going to do it! I will get through them and I will even share my successes here to prove it.

And when I am finally done, I will sit back with pride and cheer, “Damn it! it’s about time!”