I've had a lot of deadlines lately in one of my other jobs. I'm a book critic, and last weekend, I had a stack of books waiting for me. I did the math, and with a sigh, I realized that I had more than 1500 pages to get through. I reached out for the first book, determined to get through the pile, and then I hesitated.
1500 pages. Yeah, that's a lot, but there used to be a time when that meant a lot of excitement. When had I started thinking in pages instead of books, in simple math instead of the amount of literary adventures waiting for me - in work instead of pleasure?
Being a book critic is work, of course; I get paid to do it, and I don't get to choose what I want to read. But it's a great job, as well. As a matter of fact, it's a dream job (even though it doesn't feel that way when you're forced to get through a less than stellar crime novel. No, Detective, don't go into the woods; the murderer is out there, you idiot). It was in that moment that I realized that I had to get back to how things used to be; otherwise even this dream job would end up being just another chore.
Luckily, it turned out I had some really great books waiting for me - as in books you remember, for the good and the bad and for everything inbetween. It gave me back some of the faith in literature I had obviously lost sometime along the way, reading all those bad books and experiencing all that horrible editing.
Now I have to take a look at my writing as well to make sure I don't make the same mistake there. If that means writing a little less or editing a little more, then so be it. The most important thing is to remember the joy of it.
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They say you can never go back, right? Well, I'm between books at the moment - that is, my current project is being torn up by a colleague, and I still need to figure out how to move on from the first 30 pages of my next project. I've spent the time reading and working on other projects, but yesterday I took the day off.
I drove across the country to the sea, and it was a really, really great day. The roads were empty, I had Leonard Cohen's new CD on repeat, and the landscape slowly opened up around me as I drove until everything was flat and windswept and open. Then I got to the sea for the first time in years.
This particular place was where we went when I was a kid, and it brought back a lot of memories. Some of them good, some of them bittersweet. I've spent happy days with my family there. However, the day also made me think of my mother and a trip we made when I was pretty young. It was one of the last things we did together before her alcohol abuse got serious and I pretty much had to manage on my own. It hurt to think about that day, mainly because it's one of the few times I remember her trying to show that she cared for me.
It was also good, though, because I could go back - not to the past, but to a place that used to mean something to me. It still does, but I was able to accept the old memories for what they are and create new memories of a beautiful day on top of those old painful ones. Sometimes maturing isn't about struggling to improve, but about acceptance. Not forgiveness, not yet in my case. But perhaps I can get there as well.
Well, this post got a lot more personal than I thought it would be; I promise to be back on track in my next post. Until then: Don't be afraid to go back. Good things might come of
I read and I write - everything from corporate to kink. My naughty fictional friends are always there to make my life interesting. And pester me, of course. Pesky creatures.