Some days you’re the bug. Some days you’re the windshield. Some days you’re both.
I had a long dialog all typed out, about the changing economy, the changing state of entertainment in general, the publishing industry compared to the music industry, and how it all relates or doesn’t relate to us as both Writers and Readers. I even outlined an idea that I’ve grown fond of, that others around the industry are quietly talking about, that could be the future of Publishing.
Then I remembered – no one ever wants to discuss it. I’m not sure if it’s discomfort, taboo, denial, or what, but I’m too tired today to care. Maybe tired isn’t the right word – but I didn’t want to use Weary or Disconnected.
Actually today, Disconnected is a perfect description of my current state of mind. I’m alone in the office today, and normally people would still be coming in and out asking for things, the phone would be ringing, and I’d still be busy – today, I’m not. And I wasn’t yesterday, either. It’s dead quiet in here, except for the music I’m playing, and I was getting a lot of writing done, until today.
Today I feel completely detached. Somewhere between lost inside my head and totally out of it. My WIP is coming to a close, and as per my norm, I’m in flip-out mode over it. Seems whenever I reach the “almost ready to bring it all to a head” point, my brain begins a slow, oozing meltdown.
But this post isn’t about me. It’s not even about anything serious, since no one likes those topics, obviously. I’m just curious –
Have you ever become so engrossed in something, so completely absorbed and taken by it – be it a novel, a movie, a mood, a thought or idea – that you experience a total disconnect with the world around you?
Ever find yourself in a crowded room, with no consious awareness of what’s going on? Ever bring yourself out of that mental state and look around, feeling a bit lost like you’d just been on a long vacation and you’re the only one who doesn’t know what’s been going on?
Did you like it – or did it scare you, just a little?
PETE: “Washington is so great,” says Kristine.
Yeah, it’s all right, but it’s not the best place to live, like the town my wife went to school in last year, is it? 😉
KRISTINE: What were their criteria? “People here got killed less by hurricanes, and the Pacific Northwest has – Oh God, RAIN!”
LORI: I’ve visited #3 often. Geoff and I often go there for dinner when I visit him. It’s right next door to where he lives.
KRISTINE: But can you kayak around whales there? Do you watch for cougar when you’re on the beach, or walking in the woods?
LORI: Some people would consider having to watch for a cougar while taking a walk a definite negative.
KRISTINE: Nah, just man-up, carry a big stick and a camera 😀
LORI: Cougar vs. Human with Stick and Camera
My money would be on the cougar. 😉
KRISTINE: But the one who finds the camera is gonna have some award winning shots 😀
LORI: Oh. So you’re suggesting that we sacrifice Pete for some great artwork?
KRISTINE: Or Buffy and Saffron. Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I’ve recently gone back to school, back to university. I figure, I’m not going to get any younger, and I would actually like to have a degree to my name. But beyond that, it was caused mostly by digging through a course catalog with my wife and exclaiming, incredulously, “Really? There’s a class where we can sit and just talk about the Lord of the Rings, and Beowulf? How cool!” and I did that often enough with enough classes that it just seemed like a good idea.
So I did it. I went back. Instead of writing this post, I should be stretched out on the couch, reading about rhetoric and thinking about what work I’m going to bring in as an example of rhetoric, on Tuesday (my money is on V for Vendetta, but I keep wavering away). Anyway, point is, I should be reading.
That IS my point for this post, actually. And I’m getting there by degrees.
While we were talking about interesting classes they offered, my wife pointed out that they offer a forensics class, as well as mortuary courses. And I amused myself — and probably bothered her — for several minutes, wondering if there were dead bodies on the campus, and where they kept them. “In the cafeteria, probably. Here’s the coleslaw, and here’s the frozen pizza, and here’s Joe, and here’s the potatoes…” And I felt very hip, having made fun of school food. (It’s uncalled for. The food there is fantastic. Seriously, I eat better there than I do at home…)
One of the courses she mentioned was a single-semester course on Speed-Reading. She mentioned it in passing. It stuck in my head, and I stewed on it. It’s what I tend to do.
I’m a fast reader, the way it is. I always have been. I’ve slowed down a bit, in recent years, and I am perpetually frustrated by the sheer number of books that exist (and that I own) that I haven’t read yet but really want to. And adding to this those infomercials I’ve seen as a kid, where some guy sits across from the host and palms through a magazine as fast as he can, and then tells the host what he’s read about. I liked that idea.
I expounded my thoughts on the matter on my own personal blog, and then I expounded further in a comment to myself, which probably just indicates that I don’t have enough to do with my time. I won’t repeat my thoughts here. Here’s a link, if you’re interested.
What particularly caught my interest was, on a page during my speed-reading research, someone said something offhand for a second, and it made me think further. What I thought was this: If we are interested in running, we work to continually improve our stamina, our stride, we buy better shoes and we eat healthy and we improve. And if we are unhappy with our ability to type, then we take typing courses, and we buy keyboards that suit us better, and we generally work hard to improve our typing. As writers, we work to improve our skill, style, and all our tools. We strive to constantly improve our writing. So why is it that we don’t think, or attend to, our reading ability? Most of us stop gaining in reading speed when we are about twelve. The most we do is buy glasses as our eyes go bad. Why don’t we fight to improve our reading speed and ability?
Reading is as vital a part of being an author as writing is. You don’t have to be reading fiction, you don’t have to be reading the genre you might be working in…but you should be reading. It always baffles me when I meet people who write stories…but don’t like to read. Or don’t want to read. Or just don’t read. Mostly, what I find is that they aren’t interested in prose; they are using it as a way to make movies, or TV shows, without actually becoming filmmakers.
So…reading. I’ve started working hard on my reading skills. I’ve found a few exercises, which I’ll dig up again and provide links to, in a comment on this post. Things that work the eye muscles. I’ve found some very simple techniques, and they’ve helped immeasurably (I run the capped tip of a pen along the line of text at a speed faster than I would otherwise read, and then I read at the speed of the pen moving. It feels like I’m just scanning. And yet, going back…the information is there, absorbed, as surely as it would have been otherwise.)
I’ve worked hard. It means I’m reading much faster than I was (it also means I gave myself a whopping headache the first day I tried). I’m continuing to work, to train, to get myself fit, to read faster and faster and retain whatever I can. I was thrilled to find it working, in the first place, and even more thrilled to find that it worked for fiction, too. There are still some works of fiction that I luxuriate inside of, and purposely won’t read at great speeds. But there are other works I would like to read, that a sort of accelerated-reading will enable me to.
I’ve got some Big Plans About Reading, all swirling around in my head. But I’m not going to mention them quite yet. I will, in the fullness of time. But not yet. And that, I’m afraid, is why this article feels like it stops without reaching a conclusion. Er. Sorry about that.