Confessions of a Bookaholic

Belle in libraryFine, I admit it.  I’m a crazed bookaholic.  I suppose I could call myself a bibliophile which sounds so much more intelligent and respectable and while I’m technically a bibliophile, I’m really, deep down, a bookaholic.  And yes, like all “aholics,” I do have an uncontrollable dependency—on books.

I rely on books to introduce to me to someone, whether real or imagined, who experiences life as I do so that I can sing out, “Hey, soul sister!” and mean it.  I read books to get to know someone who has experienced life as I can’t or never will so that my small, narrow world stretches and softens for having known them.  And what about the characters who inspire me or enrage me?  Whoever says passion can’t be ignited by words alone hasn’t read Chocolat or The Color Purple or anything by Isabel Allende.

Well-told stories and memorable characters reach out from the pages and pluck my heart right out.  I like to think I’ve got my act together, that I can keep my emotions under lock and key, and then some randomly chosen story knocks me to my knees.  And I’m forced to admit that my life is a constant work-in-progress and my emotions, instead of fragile irritants to be controlled, are the beautiful wonders that keep me feeling alive.  This same experience, this unfolding of the tucked-in life, happens with nonfiction too, especially memoirs.  As it turns out, I’m not the first person to feel confused, challenged, restricted or grieved.  What I might not be able to talk about in public, someone has written about in private, and yet with a certain fearlessness, chose to share.  And I am forever grateful.

As Pete Hamill admits in talking about his vast library of books, “If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.”

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Writing “The End”

So many times over the last few months and even over the last few years, I’ve been tempted to write with a flourish, “The End,” across the pages of relationships, dreams, and anything else that tests my levels (or limits) of commitment.  The End is so temptingly easy, so satisfying in its finality, and yet so gut-wrenchingly hard to write.  

It’s not like I haven’t written those words before.  I have.  Many times.  But it’s never once been easy or satisfying.  It only seems that way when I’m in the middle of the testing and I keep reading the same chapter over and over again without pressing forward into a new scene or seeing some progression in the characters’ development. But when you’re in love with the story as I am with my relationships, my dreams, my never-give-up-hope ideals, then writing The End before I want the story to be truly over is more heartbreaking than heart-releasing.

So here’s this quote, (and I LOVE quotes):  “At any given moment you have the power to say, ‘This is not how the story is going to end.'”

I thought about the quote.  And thought some more.  And here’s what I decided.  Yes,I have the power to SAY “This is not how the story is going to end”, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that I have to power to make it happen.  I’m not the only person involved in my relationships or my dreams.

But I do have the power to change the plot of a story.  If I have come to The End of the way things are, then my only alternative is to write the beginning of how things could be.  Or how they should be.  Now, there’s no way, while I’m in the middle of THAT story, I’ll ever be tempted to write The End.  And isn’t that what we all want?  For the stories we love the most to never, ever end?