Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a book I couldn’t put down…

I have a confession to make: Last Wednesday I failed to publish a post to this site and while I’d love to tell you that my missing post was due to something romantic like writer’s block, or a spur-of-the-moment getaway or even a sick child who needed ‘round the clock care the real reason behind my negligence is that I was completely and utterly lost in a book.

Scandoulous, I know.

It gets worse.

Instead of following my confession with a heartfelt apology, after much thought, I have decided I’m not going to apologize for this one. I also refuse to feel guilty.

Don’t get me wrong. I love you, my dear and faithful readers. Your comments and responses to the words I write keep me going when I wonder if it’s worth it. When I doubt that anyone’s reading the words I work so hard to write. When I’m tempted to give up.

But I also know that a huge part of what makes me a writer…perhaps even a decent one…is my reckless abandon and love for books.

My friend Susie says that for writers reading is like flexing your muscles, and I believe she’s right. (If you’ve never stopped by Susie’s blog I highly encourage you to check out a couple of her posts on this topic of reading both here and here.)

When I read several things happen:

1)    Ideas begin to turn: Whether it’s an idea for a blog post, a detail for my book, a plot twist or possible character development, reading keeps my creative juices fresh and flowing.

2)    Inspiration strikes: The novel I’m currently reading, yes, the very one I can’t put down, and others like it don’t just captivate me they make me want to write. At times my fingers literally start twitching to get the keyboard. Whenever I find myself going through a dry spell in my own writing I know it’s a sign that it’s time to start reading. Bottom line, reading and writing go hand in hand and reading always makes me a better writer.

3)    My skills are developed: When I read, whether it’s conscious or subconscious or a combination of both, I am always learning about the art and craft of writing. I learn new words, new techniques. I learn new ways to tell stories and create characters. The lessons I learn from books of all genres are critical and priceless.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that each of these things is vital to my health, my sanity, my existence. It’s the way I’m wired, the way I’m made. Reading helps me function, it helps me learn, grow, and relate to the world around me. For me there is nothing like it.

But there is one more reason why I read, one more thing that happens when I lose myself in a book. When I read, especially when I get sucked into a really good book like the one I’m reading now, I am reminded of the story…of God’s story. Somehow, in someway, I believe all the really good stories and/or books of our time are reflections of the story He has been writing since time began.

I love any chance I get with a book. I live for the thrill of digging through words and mining out gems that harken back to the greatest love story ever told. It’s why I write. It’s why I read. It’s why I will never apologize for getting caught with my nose stuck in a book.

So while I’m sorry I missed out on our weekly get together last Wednesday, I’m not sorry for the time I spent reading. I hope you’ll forgive me but more than that, I hope you’ll follow my lead.

I hope you’ll find a good book, throw caution to the wind, and read with reckless abandon.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the pages of a book. May you get lost in an exquisite post, a moving article, a story that can’t be put down.

May you lose yourself in words that whisper, in pages that echo, again, and again, and again, the greatest story ever told.

Author’s note: In case you’re wondering, the book…or rather the series of books…I’m currently reading are Liz Curtis Higgs’s Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

The Last SummerOnce upon a time there was a girl who loved to read…

…and that girl is me! My friend Susie Finkbeiner, author of Paint Chips and My Mother’s Chamomile (two books you simply must read) says that reading for writers is like flexing your muscles.

I heartily agree. For writers and non-writers alike, reading is rarely a waste of time.

While March is typically a time in which our nation loses its self in the world of college basketball, it is also National Reading Month. In honor of this celebration I thought it would be fun to share with you a passage that I love.

Taken from the pages of The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares, this passage captured my heart several years ago.

It’s the type of passage that made me cry in the middle of the break room at work. It’s the type of passage that lingers long after finishing the book. It’s the type of passage I visit from time to time, to savor its sweetness, to remember its hold on me.

This passage speaks to me of love, loyalty, and friendship. It speaks of finding what’s true in a world of many things false. It reminds me of the magic found in words and reading.

These words may or may not speak to you…but even if they don’t I hope this post will inspire you to pick up a book and seek a little magic of your own.

Enjoy!

An Excerpt from The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares

As a band of children, they had laid a magical world over the topology of this skinny place, spread it from ocean to bay. It had places and creatures both evil and good, and part of the enchantment was their power to change sides whenever a good game required it. Both he and Riley realized this world was fragile. It would sink unmarked into the sea if they let it. It required believing in, and fewer and fewer people did.

In outward disgust and inward fear, he and Riley had established a mostly wordless covenant. Bodies were being snatched left and right, but they had each other to remind them what was true. If they kept each other honest, they decided, it would not happen to them. They would lash themselves to the mast of prehormonal bliss and sail through the storm that way. They’d had the prestige at that time to say, “This we know is true.” And if ever anyone said it was untrue, they would know that evil was whispered in their ears and the enemy was at hand. They would not talk. They would not give in. They’d carry the poison pill and use it if they had to.

But what would happen when they came out on the other side of the storm? They hadn’t thought it through that far. They hadn’t quite considered that by trusting one part of your life, you could undermine all the others. By siding with an early version of yourself, preemptively, you would doubt all future selves the conflicted with it.

Alice had been easy to enlist at the age of ten. Alice who would…attune herself to the broader and subtler frequencies of human interaction. She hadn’t known what she’d be giving up.

The rest had been looking backward. Trying to remember what was true rather than seeking it. They were holy men divining the ancient book, judges interpreting their constitution. They harkened back to a calmer, more just time.

But time went on, as it will, and the seasons changed. What did not accord with the covenant Paul did not tell Riley and Alice. The ambitions, the petty preoccupations…the laughing girl in his history class junior year. He went ahead and lived those seasons, all the while feeling that his real life lay here, on this beach in the summer, with Riley and Alice.

What was powerful at thirteen and even seventeen should have grown quaint by twenty-four, and yet the covenant, by its nature, had durability. It still existed between them. He could feel it even now. You could go away for months or years, but it was still here, bound to what you loved, binding you to it.

Alice kept it out of loyalty, he suspected. For Riley, it wasn’t so much like a choice. And for him?

For him, what he’d had here on this island with Riley and Alice was the best and most lasting thing in his life.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the love of reading. May you flex your muscles and find that few things in this world have the power to strengthen and nourish like well written words and a passage that feeds your soul.