When you read a lot but you’re not a writer

What a writer anyway?

Do you have to produce a book to be entitled as a writer? What about writing essays? So you are more as an essayist than a writer? Then, what if you write a lot of posts in your blog, like this blog. You’re a blogger, not a writer?

Sometimes I assume the name of a writer is exclusive, still. That you can only be called as one only after you get your books published. Other than that, you are a blogger, essayist, columnist, depending on what media you put your words on. At least, that what happens in Indonesia. I don’t know in other countries.

I read a lot. I edit every day. Commas, punctuation, periods. I correct writers’ words on a daily basis. That’s my job. Other than that, I curate. I even know the term just lately. Curator. I give critics to people short stories, but mostly I praise with lots of notes here and there. People praise my wide knowledge about literature, reading and book in general.

Sometimes they applaud my editing ability, the skill of clarifying contents. My job is carefully looking at words, finding faults (if any) then correcting them. I can’t tell I am a good editor but I practice this every day because I adore words. I believe words convey wisdom, power and ideas.

I love writing way above editing. I write to feel alive. But what I write is not books. Blog posts, loose articles, opinions or ideas. Lately I realize I prefer writing those because of random, various information that I get by reading, various kinds of topics. I get easily distracted because of my high curiosity level.

That’s why I prefer writing different topics. I know a lot and that is sometimes not good if I have to get committed to long-term projects, like the novel I wish will be published one day.

I sometimes compare myself with my best college friend. She doesn’t read as much as I do. She doesn’t know literature as much as I know. But hey! She is an author. She has one book about children tales. Though the book doesn’t sell well she makes it anyway! And I?

I get too much trapped on theories, best works I have read so far that I think too much before I actually put down my pen into papers. May be I just do what my friend do, write then forget about the rest!

 

Reading by intention

I have seen my reading circle has grown much smaller in the past one or two years. Articles about current affairs, business, politic, national issues, topped daily reading lists. I followed what was going on in my country ranging from serious to trivial things. What went viral in social media caught my attention, too.

After I stopped working as daily news translator my reading habit gradually has changed. I read stories that interest me only. These include football, books, self-development, literature and the like. Business and world affairs are no longer within my focus. I devote much time reading things that support my job and hobby.

As days go by, my reading preference becomes much narrower that it was years ago. Now, I visit websites about literature, positive psychology, books, creativity. I even often reread articles that speak about motivation whenever I feel lazy or hesitant to keep writing that I really love but I’m afraid to do.

Websites on latest issues, such as local news portal and international ones (TIME, BBC, Reuters and Bloomberg) have been occasionally visited. If you ask me what happens around the globe now, I hardly can answer your questions.

Themes, like corruption and politic that are always the favorites among Indonesians, don’t catch my attention as dazzling as they were. Sometimes I don’t know what goes on viral. Sometimes I just don’t care about why people or my friends rumble about specific themes or people that are frequently-talked at certain times.

This is so crazy, I often say so to myself. Because I now ask for my friends’ information on what happens currently, something which was in contrary with what I did years ago. As a journalist, I mostly became the first one to have known issues or gossips because that was my duty. I knew the people behind the scenes and everything so I told my friends most of the times. But the reality is now in reverse. I occasionally have no ideas what happen on the outside world.

It’s not that I turn becoming an ignorant person. The truth is my world becomes small and smaller without me intending to do that. Once I start learning to look within me, organizing my life, seeking what I really want, chasing after my personal dreams, everything seem fall into its place accordingly.

I still read latest issues but not as thoroughly as I did. I only need to know what happens and that’s it. I don’t pursue the issues any further unless they interest me so much. Much of my reading time is for stuff that helps me improving my life as a person and a novelist-to-be.

Doing this for almost two years have opened my eyes in amazing ways I couldn’t ever imagine. I used to think nothing was as important as politic and economy. I used to believe daily life is boring. I used to think my life would be grand if I pay attention to things outside my world.

The truth is reading (what I used to think as silly topics) like self-discovery, happiness, daily tips, can be not only refreshing but also influential as a creative writer as I’d like to call myself so. This habit prompts me thinking harder than I used to be as a journalist. Because I have to dig deep from scratches. I have to produce materials from everything that I read from many weeks or months before. This encourages me to work extra miles. While when working as a journalist, source persons and issues were abundant. The challenge was trying to come up with newsworthy articles. I think the latter one is harder because that requires more than asking for information. In that case, creativity does turn out very complicated sometimes because it triggers me to think and research harder.

After two years, this reading habit starts becoming a daily ritual. This makes me feel calmer, more peaceful and resourceful. The first two words happen because I read articles that intentionally support my well-being. Instead of reading things about people debate on religion or politic scandal (which surely won’t lead to any solutions for all sides), I stumble upon articles on DIY, my most favorite one is reorganizing bookshelf (LOL). Or gathering ideas on weekend-to-do-lists that don’t involve spending a lot of money at the malls.

I feel resourceful because now I get more knowledge about books and literature. I now know literature can be very up-to-date. It is not boring at all. As such, I can develop writing skills out of this much-beloved theme to make all things bookish can get along with today’s generation. That reading can be very fun. And writing about books is not always old-fashioned.

My stories when this blog firstly appears are boring. I share about book reviews and my opinions. I don’t do a lot of creative writings about them. After I read some websites I begin creating posts about what I read in as trendy, fun ways as I can.

Shifting the reading preference has done a lot of good things. I never thought reading selection should be organized but now I guess this is important thing to do because my brain and my energy is limited. As age adds up, I realize my brain can no longer accommodate all things readable. All I want and need is materials that can support me growing better and wiser every day not only as a writer but also as a human being.

 

 

 

This is how literature changes my life

literature 2
the picture is from quotesgram.com

When I was a senior high school student, I underestimated the importance of reading novels and poems. At the back of my mind, reading novels, fictions or poems would be a useless activity because it wouldn’t make me earning money. I couldn’t think of earning money by reading fictions.

Who would never thought that I was later accepted as a student of the English Literature where reading canon literature works was my daily activity. In the first four semesters, however, reading literature works was mere obligations from lecturers. My understanding was only skin deep. What I knew back then was only limited to plots, characters, social context, etc.

Thankfully, after I have graduated from the college, got a good job my reading habit never stopped. I even started viewing reading as a refreshing activity. And that was when the light shed on.

The first book that has uplifted my reading understanding then carried me to a whole new level was “The Picture of Dorian Gray“. The novel did not only lead me to have eventually learned the beauty of reading but also the most essential benefit of doing it.

While reading the title and others from the American and Asian literature has already boosted my reading experiences, those from the Victorian Era has given me more than that.

Literature has changed the way I feel about human beings. Because of reading a few number of great works from the Victorian Era I have loosened up myself from being a judgmental person. I become more tolerable. I now view people not as wholly kind or bad but in between; that people have good and bad sides. And if they do something ugly, they have complicated factors that make them doing so.

Literature has shown me that human beings are beautiful creations by Alloh swt. Their life stories are amazing, be they mostly about sadness or happiness. But when we disassociate from that labeling, each and every human experience is so worth it to be told, passed on.

Literature has shown me how society plays a very great role in shaping who we really are. Every human being is inseparable from where they grow up and live; and they are the product of those surrounding them.

Now, I come to the belief that reading novels, the best ones in particular, is all actually about reading human beings; upgrading, refreshing my views about people. And by the end of it all, I become amazed on how beautiful we are with all stories, journeys that each and every of us has passed through.

The Return of the Native

The reading process of this book is way more challenging than enjoying its story itself. This Thomas Hardy’s fourth book I have read stole my eyes as I was looking for a supposedly light, romantic reading after being left devastated as I completed reading his another novel, Jude the Obscure. At glance, I thought I could finish the book immediately as I planned to bring it as a companion in heading back home. But the reality spoke the other way around. I was struggling in finishing the novel, not because of its heavy, serious theme, but rather I was too busy to find reading time. I could not even read the book in an executive train that was bringing me back home because I preferred to have some sleep or gazing at the train’s windows. When I was at home, automatically I barely touched the book. Given its thickness, I rarely put it into my backpack as it is already packed with other stuff. So it took months to complete the reading despite its quite interesting plot. I almost gave it up. I meant it. After some time, I managed myself to grab the book and focused all of my entire my mind at the pages (I completely stopped reading it after I reached half of the novel).

At one night, despite all tiredness and sleepy head, I regained my spirit and done! Finally I got out of the so-called reading curse. I experienced this reading block for quite few times which I really don’t have any intention at all. My worse reading moment are with “Fury”, “Middlemarch”, to name a few. After closing “The Return of the Native”, my expression was: Damn! Why I didn’t finish reading it earlier??? The book is so awesome!

The book is about love pentagon, about five persons who are involved in a complicated romance story. About five characters who fail to admit what they really need thus instead get what they want only want to see.

Hardy introduces the beauty of fictional Egdon Heath, the place where all major characters — Clym Yeobright, Damon Wildeve, Eustacia Vye, Thomasin, and Diggory Venn — live at the opening of the book. Eustacia becomes the central woman character in this book. Hardy describes her as a very beautiful, smart woman with such abundant dream she can’t manage to realize it into a reality. She lives with his grandfather and through all of her life, she wishes to marry a gentleman who can grant her ambitions and dreams of leaving the place and living in a fashionable, big city. She is so in love with Wildeve but the latter’s playboy attitude causes her to get so envious. She thinks he only plays with heart. But Wildeve thinks he only seeks for some pleasure, something that results on his serious, deep relationship with Thomasin, Clym’s cousin. Wildeve and Thomasin get married anyway despite the fact that Wildeve actually sets his heart for Eustacia only. For the rest of his life.

Clym Yeobright, the native of the place, returns home after some years away in France to seek opportunities in education. He wants to establish a school in his native place, an idea that receives opposition from his mother. The stubborn Clym resumes with his initiative. The beauty of Eustacia dazzles him. He invites her to become one of the teachers at his planned school. Eustacia, who has been waiting for this kind of man to propose her, reluctantly agree while keep on persuading him to return to France. The two tie a knot despite Clym mother’s strong rejection. She doesn’t even want to attend his sole son’s wedding. She knows pretty well how bad Eustacia’s attitude is; arrogant, lazy, daydreamer.

Clym and Eustacia opt to leave the former’s house. As days go by, Clym finds it hard to make his dream come true. Instead, his eyes are sick due to his long-hour reading habit. Eustacia gets depressed day by day. Her husband is ill. It’s almost impossible to ask for him to go back to France. The worst finally comes. As Clym gets better, he decides to work as a laborer as he believes this kind of job won’t harm his eyes. Eustacia is angry at his decision. She feels so ashamed at knowing what he will do to make ends meet. Her husband is an intellectual, noble person, how come he wants to do such kind of thing?

As her life is getting away of her ideal, Eustacia seeks for some entertainment. At one night, she decides to go to a dancing party where she meets Wildeve, someone who always has a special room in her heart. The night marks their reunion and their relationship goes deeper than ever. They do what they once did in the past; secret meetings behind their partners’ back. Both Clym and Thomasin know nothing of this. Thomasin knows that her husband and Eustacia once a lover but she has no curiosity that their relationship goes on. No one pays attention to this, no one but Venn.

Venn, a mysterious guardian angel who loves Thomasin whole-heartedly, knows everything on the secret meetings. Even after Thomasin rejects his love then she is married to Wildeve, Venn remains as a good companion.

Realizing how short and lonely her life is, Clym’s mother takes initiatives to amend her bad relationship with Clym and Eustacia. The old woman manages to come to their house and apologize. As she is approaching the house, Clym is sleeping while Eustacia and Wildeve are in the house. Both are speaking seriously on the fate of their relationship. When Clym’s mother knocks the door, Eustacia decides not to open it for she is afraid that Clym’s mother will exacerbate their already doomed relationship. Clym’s mother feels so much in despair as she knows that Clym does not want to open the door and rekindle their intercourse.

Much to her disappointment, Clym’s mother heads back home with grief. She is so sad that she falls ill seriously and dies before meeting her son for the last time. Clym mourns his mother death and he feels much worse after he knows it is Eustacia who doesn’t allow her mother to get in the house.

After a terrible fight following the death, Eustacia leaves the house then returns to her grandfather’s house. She locks herself, feels so sad, and even tries to shoot herself. This is the perfect time for Wildeve to offer his help. He visits her one night then invites her to escape. Wildeve wants to provide material assistance for Eustacia after he inherits his uncle’s wealth. The two plan to meet at one night when which Wildeve will walk her to a harbor.

Learning her husband’s suspicious absence at that night, Thomasin contacts her cousin. Clym immediately runs to Eustacia’s house to ask whether or not she reads his letter. Knowing she leaves even without the knowledge of her grandfather, Clym seeks for her whereabouts. As he arrives at a dam, he hears a strong voice indicating a person falls into the dam. He runs faster then finds out Wildeve jumps into the water. Clym does the same.

When they are rescued, Eustacia and Wildeve are dead while Clym is survived. The end of the story is closed with the wedding of Venn and Thomasin while Clym eventually achieves his dream of sharing knowledge to people in the place though he does this not in a schoolroom but at top of a hill, like a preacher.

 

Some tips on how to find reading time amid busy life

In times where smartphones and computer tablets are very popular, I think having a deep reading time is becoming quite rare. Not to mention so many work that awaits us in the office or homework for students. Here, I’d like to share few ways on how to keep in touch with novels or books although we are very busy.

1)    Bring books anywhere you go
I practice this most of the time. In case you are busy even during weekends, try this effort when you want to read. Bring novels in your bag and make use your time effectively. Usually, I read when I wait for bus. When I am already in the bus, I resume reading novels. Not only this helps me to always have time for reading, this also eases my patience during traffic jams. One thing that we must be taken into notice is that we should purchase relatively thin novels so that they won’t be a burden for your bag, unlike me and “The Return of the Native” (see previous post). This effort enables me to finish reading some books and novels despite the fact I actually spend less than one hour every day. That’s quite surprising for me.

2)    Loyal friends during waiting
Waiting can be boring when your friends don’t show up on time because of many reasons. Many people opt to use their smartphones either for chatting or browsing while waiting for their friends, but I choose to shift my attention to books. Waiting can be a perfect time to continue our reading moment.

3)    Before bed activity
I rarely do this tip because I can fall asleep quite fast. I once read articles that reading can be a good way for those who are unable to sleep quickly. And definitely, you can rely on completing reading books at this time.

4)    Turn off TV, leave high tech gadgets for a while
No joking. High tech gadgets are very revolutionary, helpful invention. Think about how we can manage almost everything with some clicks away via smartphones or tablets, iPads, or everything you have. But also, they can be very time consuming. Relying much on them can make our days be unproductive. And I am no exception. Sometimes, I check my BlackBerry just to find out other people’ status or pictures. Such unnecessary activities. I think this kind of activity making us to become lazy in reading conventional books, papers, I mean. So, I try switching off my BlackBerry once in a while then checking it when necessary. That helps me a lot to find convenient time for doing other things unrelated with technology or social media activity. And one of the activities is by reading books or writing.

5)    Weekend enjoyment
I miss this kind of moment at the time being. When I am not busy, I make weekend as the best gateway into the world of books. Sitting in a cozy sofa while reading books all day long. Book lovers know exactly how that make them feel.

I hope those simple tips can boost your spirit to get back in reading books. If you love books, you will always do as your best to find time to read them all, just like when you like someone whom make you feel you have to meet him or her all the time.