27 April 2009

Embracing How I Used to Be

As the bus pulled up to my stop today, I couldn't bring myself to put the book I'm reading, PRINCESS ACADEMY, into my bag and give it up for the morning. I thought, 'I still have a five minute walk, why shouldn't I keep reading?' And then I walked down the street with my nose stuck in a book, like my beloved Belle.

I used to do that all the time as a child and teen. I would read while walking, while in the car (until I got sick), while in bed until the wee hours of the morning. I don't do that anymore — at least, not with the same frequency.

I have a bachelor's degree in literature. I am an author. Still, I don't read nearly as much as I did when I was 10. I tell myself that I have a (more than) full-time job, a social life, responsibilities. But the truth is that I've changed, not my circumstances.

I had a full-time job back then too. (Don't even try to tell me that school isn't a full-time job. I was far busier back in elementary, jr. high, high school than I've ever been since.) I had friends and after-school activities to contend with. Yet, I managed to read several books a week.

The fact of the matter is that I had my priorities straight back then. I don't know how or when they got crooked, but somehow I lost sight of the things that mattered most (and I'm no longer just talking about books).

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to YA and MG fiction? Maybe there's something inherently wise about a world free of the crap we adults think matter? Maybe that's why less savvy readers dismiss YA and MG as "simplistic" or "less complex"?



KLo said...

Whenever I tell people that I teach high school freshmen, I get responses that boil down to either, "You're very brave!" or "You're freaking insane!" (often both at the same time).

The truth is, though, I don't know what I would do without the refreshing honesty, wisdom, and innocence exemplified by my students (even the not-so-innocent ones, if you get my drift). I find adults to be bogged down in ulterior motives and choosing their words carefully--adolescents tell it like they see it.

For me, teaching is a bit of escapism of the harsh realities of adulthood--plus I get to convince kids that literature is amazing and that writing doesn't have to be a drag as an added bonus : )

Interesting post!

beth said...

I marvel at how much I used to read. And how much quicker! And how much more I used to put up with. I've become such a critical and impatient reader that I have to work to find books I love...and even some books I loved in the past, I struggle with reading now!

I think the difference is priorities--I remember reading while eating supper and doing various other activities. But now, instead of reading, I'm focusing on thinking (about life, about writing, about what I'm going to do next) and my brain gets too cluttered to read as much as before.

And...reading has become a guilty pleasure. I've got dishes to do, I shouldn't read now! But as a kid, I'd totally put the dishes on the bottom of the list.

Yanno what? I don't think dishes need to get to done! Here's to reading instead! Down with the dishes!!!

Litgirl01 said...

It's tough when life gets busy! You just have to find a little time to steal away and read. Sometimes I listen to books on tape when I take a trip...because there are always so many books that I want to read, and I don't have the time. :-)

Windsong said...

I love the YA and MG stuff myself. :D Kids have a way of seeing things that is refreshing from a grown-up POV. They aren't miniature adults, they think and process things differently. That's probably why this age level is so hard to write well.

Joyce Wolfley said...

I am totally attracted to YA and MG too. And I think it is very difficult to write because YA and MG will call you on the BS.

I also read everywhere as a kid, especially at the breakfast table (I was not the kindest to my books). I would hide in the attic or under the pool table to get some alone time to read.

E. Van Lowe said...

Great post. I, too, think it comes down to priorities. I LOVE to read, but I don't read as much as I'd like. I think it's because as we get older our minds become cluttered with the minutia of life. School may well be a job, but it's not the same. When I can drop out for a day and just read, I am in heaven.

Samantha Elliott said...

I've been much better this week about reading, about making the things I want to be priorities priorities. So far it's working out well. Thanks for all the comments and support! Keep 'em coming!