May 3rd, 2015

Delight in words

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” -- George R R Martin

I'm blessed to have the most amazing library of books, ebooks and audiobooks. I'm not one for numbers, but I would wager they exceed 600.

But, right now, perhaps linked to my daily routine -- get up, write, get the children ready for school, and do a full day's work -- I'm acutely aware that I'm not reading enough. Not just that, but there's an air of desperation in so far as I can't seem to concentrate on one book long enough to completely finish it. I've tried all sorts of tricks, but nothing seems to work. (If I told you, right now, that I had two different audiobooks on two different mobile phones, one ebook and at least two paperbacks on the go, your immediate response would be, "Focus Summerhays, focus" -- tell me something I don't know.)

Fundamentally though, despite my love of books, it's not about reading more but instead going much deeper with my inquiry. In fact, from what I've read so far, there are probably only a handful of books that I need to read, not least because they are exquisitely written but, more importantly, they go to the heart of my true being.

One book in particular has made more of an impression than anything previously I've read: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. Also, I've listened to a wonderful transcription of the works of Meister Eckhart which has made me consider my whole experience of non-dualism and the shadow life, which I've written so extensively about.

One discipline that I must definitely embrace is to STOP BUYING BOOKS. It's not just that I don't need more of them, but I think in having them they're apt to obscure what I should be doing, namely to write. I know that's probably antithetical to all the wisdom of old that says that writing is as much about reading as the craft itself, but I really don't feel, in the genre I wish to focus on, that reading a whole slew of new books is going to make me that much better as a writer. Please don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of 'classics' I've never read, but I'm not sure I want to spend years reading fiction when it's not really a massive draw to me. Yes, I love stories, but what really draws me -- to my soul in fact -- is the idea of helping people realise their potential. Oh sure, I could write something in the style of Who Moved My Cheese, but that's not me.

In the final analysis, I need to be more disciplined with: (a) the amount of time I devote each day to reading; and (b) not to worry if I don't read as much as I think I should. Perhaps there's a paradox in those points but the truth is that having found a few books that have so profoundly affected me, I don't think digesting more books is the most important thing in my life.

Of course if I do come across something worth sharing I'll let you know, but for now I'll see how much time I can invest each day to keep me moving forward in my work.

PS. I would love to have the time to do a detailed review of every book I read and listen to but with the abundance of online reviews, I'm not sure that that would be the best use of my time.