Friday, December 18, 2009
One a Day
Something was changing for a long time. It took about a year to understand it, but now I do. People who've been coming here for a long time know that the original focus of this blog was on writing. For a long time I couldn't stop writing and I couldn't stop talking about it. I took classes and workshops and attended retreats and wrote the better part of two bad novels before I stopped to try to figure out what my problem was.
It became obvious over time, but what I found was the more I challenged myself with what I read, the more unhappy I became with what I was writing. A woman I met through blogging and emails came to Denver this summer and we finally met in person. She'd read the first hundred pages of my second attempt and what she told me came as a strange relief. She thought what I'd written was very good, but after getting to know me she had a hard time reconciling what I'd written with who I am. It didn't sound like me.
By that time, I'd stopped writing completely and I focused all my energy on reading. I'm glad I did. The truth is that I don't want to write something I wouldn't want to read and I'm not capable of writing that well. Maybe I never will be.
Over the past few months I've started writing again, but I'm not working on a novel. I have notebooks full of ideas and fragments and pages of gibberish that would make Gertrude Stein chuckle, but it's what I need to do now. In 2009 I all but abandoned poor Eudaemonia. I didn't know what to say.
Now, I think I do -- at least here on this blog.
I've finished twenty-one books since my last post about reading. Catching up won't be easy, but I have a plan. I'll write about one book a day until I'm caught up.
For those of you who are new here, understand that I'm not a book reviewer or literary blogger. I'm not even a college graduate. I'm just someone who likes books. My intent in writing about them is to capture my personal and not always rational opinions about the books. I don't presume to assign literary merit. I put a great deal of thought into what I read, so my going in position is that they're all "good" (as meaningless a word as it is).
Here's the list of books I've read, but not yet talked about. Tomorrow, I'll begin.
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Falling Man by Don DeLillo
Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles
Saturday by Ian McEwan
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Night Train by Martin Amis
The Brain Dead Megaphone by George Saunders
Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas
Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Mark Twain in Hawaii by Grove Day
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel by Steven C.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Catholics by Brian Moore
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories by Steven Millhauser
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the relationship between reading and writing and of course -- about the books.
Subscribe Now: Feed Icon
It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.