Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Great Escape

By Heather Horrocks

After reading through some of the other blogs in the past week or two, I've realized that I'm continuing a theme on escaping from the real world into novels for awhile.

We’ve had some weird things happening in my family the last year and a half and I’ve found myself in need of a ‘great escape.’

For me, that has always been novels. I have always been a voracious reader. Well, except for the first few years after I started writing seriously, when I would feel guilty if I picked up a book because ‘I should be writing instead.’ But then I read Stephen King’s On Writing and loved the part where he said if you’re not reading regularly you shouldn’t be writing. I took this as permission to read again.

I think King said he averages a book a week, so I took a sheet of paper and wrote from 1 to 52 and try to average 52 books a year. I’ll usually read them in a clump and the not read for a few weeks, and then pick them up again. I still have the sheets for the past six or seven years. It’s interesting to go through them occasionally and remember what I’ve read.

It’s the end of August, so nearly three-fourths of the way through the year, but I’ve already read 55 books this year. I’ve been in high escape mode. Like I say, it’s been the year of the ‘great escape.’ I was wanting to escape into anyone else’s world but mine, whether it was a world in someone else’s book or one of my own. Or into movies.

And now I’m slowing the flow of escape reading and stepping back into my worldscape again. Whoa! Look at that craters! I’ve been bombed! (Not really, but doesn’t it feel like that sometimes?)

The conclusion I’ve come to? Life is hard – mine and everyone else’s, too. So I’m hereby pulling up my big-girl pants and getting on with my life. I’ll keep writing, because that satisfies some deep need in me and helps me deal with other things that I can’t control as well.
So now I have to get back to my great novels – first the one I’m writing and, later, the one waiting for me on the nightstand).

Hope you always have a good book on your nightstand – and can read it for enjoyment and not for escape. And, if your life does need escaping from right now, I hope you have some good books on your nightstand to help you through the hard parts of life.

Here’s to all of us pulling up our big-girl pants and dealing with the stuff life deals us.

5 comments:

  1. 52 books a year! Wow, Heather, you put me to shame. I only read 11 books last year, but I'm up to 13 so far this year, so I'm doing better. I keep a list of the titles I read each year. It is fun to go back and look at the lists, isn't it?

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  2. Perhaps stopping to read someone else is an escape, but I like to think of it as adding spice to my leftovers, new insights to my thinking, feeling awe at the creativity of others, or getting that just plain good feeling of satisfaction.

    Come to think of it, all the above is escape from the mundane. Touche. And thank you, Heather, for both the stimulation and the excuse.

    I'm impressed with your book list. I haven't kept a list of books I've read, though I wish I had, and have started about a zillion times. I've thought of keeping an index card file with comments, and there must still be some beginnings around here somewhere. Then again, perhaps I'll make a list of books I want to read, and check them off as I finish. Okay, I've tried that too, but I never get more than half of any list checked off. Maybe I could count the ones I've at least started? When I needed more bookmarks, I felt the tops of books in my bookcase and found at least a dozen marking my place in books I'd actually forgotten when I'd ever started to read.

    Please forgive me for exposing myself with these private thoughts, but I find it rewarding and fun to laugh at my own foibles. It makes it so much easier for me to forgive everybody else of whatever. And who knows? I may even improve, and be more like the rest of you.

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  3. Good for you Heather! I just found a list of 100 classics that George Wythe college suggests everyone read as part of their life long process of education. I am intrigued and grateful that I have a mentor in my husband with whom I can discuss these books I frequently get lost in.

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  4. Okay, I can see the bar has been raised for all of us. And that is good. I read a recent article in the Tucson paper that indicated 25% of adult Americans read no books in a year. That is really sad! Rene

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  5. Most people don't write any books in a year, either -- so we are totally awesome! It Is fun to look back through the list of books I've read (I just keep a folded over sheet of paper in the basket where I keep my library books and, as I put back a book, I write it down; if it was any more complicated than that, I'd never get it done). So here's to spice and here's to occasional escapes.

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