I never thought I would be able to read the same way again after some of the drugs that were prescribed for me. What a relief to fully have my books back again, to be able to plow through 500 pages in a day, lost in another world. At one point, I started to make a list of all the books I could remember reading – a challenge at best, and more so when my brain felt so pharmaceutically shattered. I would go to the library and look for the familiar, check them out and add them to the list. As always though, some asshole had to attack what they didn’t understand and internally I retreated fast and far, before I could even vocalize what was happening. Old habits die hard, and mine were taught so deeply, so painfully, it’s no wonder.
My older 5 year old sister was surprised when I started reading before her, but it was a compulsion, a competition, and a fascination that became permanent. When life was unbearable, books were a haven and a blessed escape, and I would find hiding spots and just camp out with a stack. Even now, when I have rough days or tough times, I instinctively head to the library or book store, or to my own dependable stacks. Then to bed, with tea and a tottering pile of heaven from authors near and far – what magic the written word can create. Solid illusions that linger for days, years.
I just read a book that I couldn’t put down. I picked it up, it immediately felt right, like a kindred spirit I was waiting to meet all this time, and I read the whole 500+ pages in one fantastic day. I needed it badly, despite how well things are sort of going. When I feel alone, isolated, abandoned all over again, with bullies and aggressive men everywhere, books like this one are miraculous salvation. Would that I could create something half that wonderful.
This is some of the agony of a creative life; the struggle to find work that supports you financially, while leaving you some mental energy for the creative processes. It’s one reason I fantasize about a farm, as growing things and doing chores leaves ample room for the mind to wander, explore plot lines, characters. The writing class is helping immensely though, especially since it’s held in my favorite bookstore, the one I considered getting married in, to the sweet yuppie who never understood the poetic perfection of the idea. Glad I bailed on that idea, even if it has seemed to mean that I’m alone forever.
With books like these though, I feel a lot better, less stranded on an island of pain and confusion. It gives me hope that one day I could publish, see the thrill of my words printed on a page even if it’s only for me, or – gasp – actually make a living with writing, as so few are able to do. You never know.
Even if life is messy, I can always read, and then write the happy endings I want to see. That is magic, more than some ever get.
The Radio – Vince Gill
Parachute – Chris Stapleton
Pilot of the Airwaves – Charlie Dore