On Loving Words

I have hated the words and loved them and I hope I have made them right – The Book Thief

wordsIf you are one of the handful of readers who stop by here now and again, you know that Older Eyes is a lover of words.  Perhaps handful of readers sounds like a lament or even a complaint … and anyone who’s ever put words to a page would call me a liar if I denied a wish for more readers … but I bring it up today as evidence.  A man doesn’t write nearly a million words in four years for a small audience unless he truly loves the way it feels as the words flow from imagination to fingertips to page.  Lately, however, although the words still flow, they require more effort and bring less joy.  They feel emptier, even though, to this reader, they still read well.

It’s the day after Christmas.  Last night, I stayed up until almost two am to finish Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief.  Twenty, even ten, years ago I’d have made it to the end but this sixty-nine year old body isn’t what it used to be, so I finished it over breakfast today.  I’d seen the film bybook thief director, Brian Percival, with Muri and I’m always touched by stories about words and writing.   And hearing the narration of the film, by Death, no less, I knew that I had to read the book to experience the words firsthand.  It was a fast read but not an easy read.  How can a story of perhaps the worst era in human history be easy?  My eyes were wet through the last chapter as Death carried off the story’s characters, one by one, and I certainly cried with Leisel as she discovered the bodies of her parents and her beloved Rudy in the bombed out streets of Molching.  But I also cried for the inspiration Liesel’s words brought to every one around her amidst the horror and Liesel’s love of the words she wrote to tell her story.

A casualty of my writing … of my blogging … has been my reading.  Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu has languished half-read on my Kindle for months.  Yes, it has been a disappointment, but I’ve waded my way through disappointments before for the love of words.  That’s how love works.  Friends have handed me books they recommend and they accumulate in a pile on my office table, whispering quietly … Read me.  Love me.  Instead, I sit at the keyboard looking for inspiration with a club (which Jack London assures me a I need to do sometimes) or rewatch favorite films on TV.  Leisel may be a fictional character but she’s reminded me that writing is borne of love and that love isn’t always stars and sunlight.  It bares the soul in ways that sometimes hurt.   And love is a two-way deal, it’s give and take.   If I want to write, I need to read.   In his inspiring book, On Writing, Stephen King told me that I needed to set aside time to write if I want to be a writer.  I’ve done that.  But he also said a writer needs to read.  He’s right, of course.  So, with New Years Day approaching, my first New Years Resolution is to get back to reading the words I love as well as writing them.   Why is it that sometimes doing what we love takes discipline?  Am I just an odd fellow?  Or are we an odd species?

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6 Comments on “On Loving Words”

  1. Wendy Says:

    I too am a bibliophile and a lover of words and writing. Now that I blog, it is always a contest of wills- shall I read or write? Loving them both makes the choice hard, so I am so with you on this one.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Lately, writing wins, mainly because for so many years I didn’t do enough of it. But here it is, the first week of January and I’m on my third book of the year.

  2. Cheryl P. Says:

    I hope to go see the movie this week. I like to tell myself that I would get the book but I, too have a stack of books waiting to be read.

    As for the love of words…I am happy you find joy in writing. You provide us with the joy of reading.

    BUT, as you point out there is an emotional tug of war that goes with being a blogger. No matter how much pleasure one has in the writing there is a measure of frustration if you can’t find an audience. I am not necessarily talking about a huge number but a readership that grows and is somewhat consistent. It still bothers me when I notice a long time follower drop off.

    I think any blogger is motivated if there is interest in what they write. Finding a balance between the time spent blogging, satisfaction derived from blogging, and the reader’s reaction/reception is often hard to find. (at least for me).

    • oldereyes Says:

      There are days … and posts … that blogging satisfies me deeply, whether anyone reads or not. But on other days, when something I really loved gets no response, I’m disappointed. And I haven’t a clue what’s different between those times.

  3. territerri Says:

    I agree. We all want to be read and appreciated for the words we create on our blogs. To some degree, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. When I first started blogging, I publicized my blog in any way I could (without compromising my semi-anonymity.) And I used to write a lot more frequently than I do now. I sometimes would receive comments on a post from 25 or more readers. (Granted, compared to really well-known bloggers, that’s nothing. But it was a lot for an average blogger without a pretty general theme to her blog. I loved all the comments, but it was also a challenge to keep up with so many other writers. Eventually,when I moved my blog to a new URL, I lost some of my readership. And while I miss the more active pace at times, I now appreciate more those readers with whom I’ve formed a bond and have things in common.

    My stats tell me I wrote only something like 125 posts in 2013. I’d like to do better than that in 2014. The past few days, I’ve posted about “nothing” and that doesn’t sit well with me, but I’m trying to do as you describe in this post – make time to write, and in the absence of anything stellar, just write something. I want to get back to that feeling when I could think of several things to write about and had trouble deciding which.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I have enough trouble keeping up with my small group of commenters, so perhaps it’s just as well I’m not better read. But I do know that reading excites my passion for words and in the long run, that makes me write more.

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