How old were you the first time you fell in love?
With reading? 5 years old, I read The Trumpet Swan and never looked back. Books call to me, calm me, make me feel at once productive and relaxed. I can lose myself between the pages, sit for hours ignoring back cramps and sleeping limbs just to finish a chapter. Lately I attack books with a vivid ferocity born of my college years' starvation from all things fictional. Nowadays I've become less picky about what I read...classics, trashy romance novels, science fiction, novellas, even branching out of much-loved genres into the realm of nonfiction and memoirs. I've always loved words- the way they're written, the way they're spelled, the saying, the pronouncing (statistics!). Spelling bees were my jam (chimpanze-E!), stories written and illustrated with such enthusiasm my teachers gave me personal spelling lists. I never proclaimed myself a gifted- my one attempt at reading the dictionary failed so miserably I knew I never had a shot at that- but I was always aware my aptitude for the written word began a love affair I just didn't
know howwant to quit. It was this irresistible pull, this knock-you-out-of-real-life-until-you-finish urgency that made me think maybe, just maybe, I, too, could write. I figured the more I read, the better I read, the more I understood, learned and knew about writing. Like reading somehow unlocked levels in your brain preventing you from becoming a better writer. It seemed so easy. So I applied as a Literature major. Because even if I didn't write full time, I'd get to read mountains of books (as assignments!) and maybe have a career as an editor. Of course, one small issue was the fact that I enrolled into a primarily research-based scientific university. So there's that. And then I realized that there were so.many.people. who wrote beautifully, eloquently, perfectly scripted stories. I didn't have the confidence to compare my work to theirs. And, realistically, I didn't think I was going to make any money. I wanted to be able to support myself instead of living as a starving artist. This was further justified when I realized I wanted to marry a man who's dreams consisted of a private university tuition. We needed a sugamomma in that situation, and pronto. So began four years of a long distance relationship with reading. I would see books and think wistfully, I used to have that. I'd study on the only floor in my giant library that held reading material. Winter breaks and long summer hours gave me some little time to read what I could and I did so with gusto: swallowing books whole, barely understanding what they said, eagerly jumping from topic to topic. It was gluttony, pure and simple. I missed reading for fun. I hated textbooks. If I had to highlight one more equation, I would lose my mind.
When I graduated people asked what I would do with my time and I always replied "Read" as if that was all I needed to keep me occupied. In many ways it is. But then they would scoff and tell me that a full time job takes away an free time you thought you had. Nonsense. Reading is a priority to me, just as sleeping or eating (sometimes trumping both!) and I wouldn't have it any other way. When was the first time I fell in love? I do it over and over again in the pages of my books. Antonio Corelli, Perrin Aybara, Jon Snow, the Wizard Howl, Prince Charmont, Tommy, Henry DeTamble, Mr. Darcy....