reading & writing

No writing. No reading.

At least that’s how it feels. Teaching high school English really means that those are all I do. I’m constantly reading. Constantly writing. I logged 10 hours of those two activities on Monday alone.

Yet, it feels like I’m not reading or writing a thing.

I did manage to squeeze in Paulo Coelho’s new novel, Aleph. But I’ve been carrying around a copy of Moneyball for at least two months now. I have read it in pieces. 15 minutes at a time. Twice a week. Waiting for cross-country practice to start. I’m dying to read The Art of Pitching, which sits on my nightstand, or any of the other books sitting there, waiting patiently to be read.

Instead, my brain is filled with novels I teach. Short stories I filter through. Texts on writing. Texts on reading. Research. Methodology.

And writing? Goodness. The sheer amount of words that have come out of me in the last three days in remarkable. A student sat today with her mouth open and said she didn’t understand how the words just come so easily. But I haven’t written in this blog in … a month? I’m not even sure.

I suppose I should be greatful that I am able to teach what I truly love. But every now and then, it would be nice to have large amounts of uninterrupted time to read and write whatever I please.

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currently reading: the choices

I think I’m going to approach this in two ways. First, I think I want to explain why I choose the books I do. I think that’s important. And second, I think I’ll write about what I thought after I read the individual books. I don’t think I’ll backtrack to other books right now because I haven’t really been updating the side of this blog with everything I’ve been reading.

I made a trip to the library a couple of days ago and came up with the new “Currently Reading” and a few other books waiting to be read, and a friend handed me another book the other day.

First, “Run to the Mountain” by Thomas Merton. I’ve been listening to Joseph Campbell’s interview with Bill Moyers on “The Power of Myth.” The series speaks of the journey of the soul, which is exactly what Merton writes about from a Catholic perspective, which, of course, is very easy for me to understand. I have been wanting to read Merton’s journals for some time, but the six-part series is a little daunting. I have found thus far, though, that it is an easy read and a nice description of the spiritual journey of a person. And because of my current “going-with-the-“signs” philosophy, I was drawn to begin the series now because of the title of the first volume. A friend told me a story a few weeks ago: “Why did you climb the mountain?” and he referred to “meeting me at the mountaintop” a few days ago. Repeated references to a mountain and stumbling across this book in the book stacks made it seem like ideal timing.

I have to say as a side note that both this friend and another have made reference to sharing spirituality with me. I have to say that is very overwhelming for me because I have made a conscious decision to cultivate friendships with both of them because of the spirituality I see in each of them. So, I have started to see how we strengthen and develop our spirituality through the presence of kindred souls. I am grateful for my co-discusser on all things of the soul and my prayer partner.

The second book “Building Better Plots” is one that I picked up because at this point I’m inclined to read anything anyone has written about writing. Some of these books have been zero help, but some have been incredible. So, I figure I will power through them and glean what I may from each.

The third thing that I’m about 10 pages into and trying not to read until I finish the other two is Paulo Coelho’s “The Valkyries” which was handed to me a couple of nights ago by the same person who recommended “The Alchemist.”

“The Doctor & The Devils” ~ Dylan Thomas

Reasons why I read it–

  • Since, I was forced to teach “The Crucible” last November, I have taken to reading plays. I never enjoyed reading plays as a student because I felt that they were not intended to be read. They were written for a specific art that was not words on paper. So, I have been determined to find things that bring as much meaning through words as they do through action. I’ve run through “Death of a Salesman,” “Los Vendidos” and “Zoot Suit” with my students in the past four months. All brilliant.
  • I was wandering the LA Central Library when I came across a strangely bound volume written by Dylan Thomas.
  • Upon researching the tale, I was intrigued by the publisher notes that said Thomas was commissioned to write this particular story because it was believed that he was one of a few authors at the time who could spin prose in the form of a screenplay so beautifully that it would read as literature. (For the complete synopsis: BBC does a great job.)

Reasons I loved it–

  • The publisher’s notes are dead on (no pun intended). Thomas weaves a beautiful story through the guise of a screenplay (that never was transformed into its intended movie version) that lacks nothing as literature. His characters are chilling and the settings are beautifully spun into images in the mind. Continue reading