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Perseverance, a Good Book, and Telling Stories

Greetings once again, o erstwhile reader and whatever personage that has somehow discovered this blog. I realized long ago the pure necessity of perseverance in getting projects done, but there still remains to me a not-quite-but-nearly-fatal defect– straying eyes and a thirst for a truly good book. Reading and writing are both good, wholesome, and most necessary occupations, but doing the former when you know that you really ought to be doing the latter is considered, in Orwellian terminology, double-plus-ungood. Yesterday was a good example.

On Friday, a very fine day for writing, I was focused, determined, and pushing along at a quicker pace than I have seen in quite a long time. Then I sneaked a quick peek into my backpack.  I saw a book. A good book. I started the novel “Gilead” (forgive me, o heathen gods of grammar, for this software allows not the gift of underlining) a few days before, which thirty pages in I declared to be one of the best books I had ever read. It consists of jottings in a sort of memoir from an elderly man, on the verge of death, to his seven-year-old son (he married late in life) of what he would have told his son had they had the years ahead together. It doesn’t look overtly planned, but the deftness and gentle control over pacing and events is absolutely superb. I reluctantly turned back to my work for a few more minutes, resisting the inclination to stop. Then I sneaked another peek. It wouldn’t do any harm, I thought, to read just a little bit. Just for a moment. I totally blew ninety minutes or more without realizing it, and read nonstop until I finished the book that evening. As I seldom have the time to pick up a good book nowadays, when I get the chance I typically blow right through it in a few days. Well, drat on a day for writing.

I did have a very nice experience later in the day. Thursday evening, I had told a little yarn out of my head for my little brother, something silly about a big bear dressed in dandy clothes furiously chasing me down a mountain for a sandwich. The next day, after I finished the book aforementioned, I was looking over the fruits of my daily labors when I overheard Brandsan (who will turn five this fall) trying to repeat the yarn back to my mother. I had to prompt him along at certain points, but I felt a bit of honest pride at my little brother liking it enough to try to tell it over. At his request, I finished that story and started another, about Joe the horse, who having come into his prime decides to leave his beloved apple orchard to seek his fortune, and start an honest newspaper in Chicago. That is the real delight of storytelling, the being able to keep someone wide-eyed and spellbound, hanging on your every word as you spin a little tale. I was reminded that this is exactly what writing really ought to be: just telling stories, and hoping to keep someone interested.

On that note, go out and make your own story, and tell a few along the way. May God bless.