Reading again

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I finally got enough strength back in my left fingers to be able to hold a book open again so I can read. I still have to be super careful not to twist my wrist inside the cast though (the cast is now kind of loose, so I definitely need to be consciously aware of what I’m doing all the time just to be on the safe side), but it’s such a relief to have a little more dexterity back, little by little.

I know I am not supposed to do this, and yeah, if you want to smack me, get in line, but… I like testing myself. Seeing how much I can do before I can’t take it anymore. I mean, in regard to my wrist. Not my tailbone. Hell, I had enough of THAT last Thursday with the meetings from hell. I won’t be doing that kind of pushing-my-limits thing again anytime soon. That pain was tremendous and terrible and I would wish it on my worst enemies. It would be a good punishment.

I test my left hand by holding light things, like a grocery store bag with just bread in it, things like that. I managed to carry three glasses of water to our table last night at Organ Stop, balancing them ever-s0-carefully in a little tight triangle between my hands. It might have been stupid on some level, but I can’t help it, I felt a little triumphant when I made it all the way to the table without spilling a drop.

And now, I can lie on my back in bed and read again, holding the book up above me. This is my favorite way to read, and now that I can hold the book steady with my left hand and turn pages with the right, I’m feeling a lot happier in general. It’s weird how much I think I missed this nightly routine I have been doing for years now.

I finished Impossible by Nancy Werlin last night. I posted my review on Goodreads, but I’ll reiterate by saying it was a cool, fun book. I read the whole second half of the book last night, without putting it down. It just got really, really good and I ended up reading until 3am. (Technically, I remember finishing at 2:51am, but I’m rounding up because that’s what people always say to do, in life: round up.) I felt energized by what I’d read, and couldn’t fall asleep no matter what I tried. I was lying there thinking about my two books and a third story I thought of last week. I got up and made some notes but overall it was just a long night of happy thinking. When I did doze off on an off, I dreamed light little dreams that left me curious when I woke up, because I could recall the feeling and emotions in the dreams but not specifics, and I would then lie there and will myself back into the dreams so I could see what the hell I had been dreaming about…

…and this continued until just after 5am. I finally fell asleep for about two hours.

So today I am operating on very little sleep, and wondering why I don’t feel incredibly tired out. I think it had to do with the fun I was having with thinking. Does that sound really dumb? But it’s probably true.

Pretty much nothing else can get my creativity moving along in my slow brain again like reading a very good, satisfying book. I just love it so much. Even better is that on Saturday, I found myself back in writing mode, doing some new scenes and going even further out of my comfort zone with one of my main characters. I wish I could have those kind of days so much more frequently! Maybe I can. I’ll try.

I’ve got to finish a couple more things for work today and then I can feel OK about spending a couple of hours with my own writing again. (And yes, I move and stand up a lot as the hours go by, I promise.) I’m feeling kind of goofy-happy again. I love that.

This might be off the subject, but I was looking through some old photos I posted on Facebook this morning and remembering when I did theater. I mean, way, way back when I first tried acting, and how it just felt like the greatest, longest game of make-believe EVER and I couldn’t believe I was getting graded to play around for a whole class period like that.

I landed in Drama class by accident. I had signed up for half a year of creative writing, and then half a year of public speaking. When we got our schedules in the summer, mine had an error and instead of public speaking, I was in drama. I thought about changing it and basically forgot/got too lazy to worry about it. And this was the most fortuitous thing I could have done, because my second period in 10th grade has the distinction of being my most life-changing school experience, looking back.

First, my creative writing class was insane. I couldn’t have been happier in that class! My teacher was a wonderful woman named Mrs. Doyle, and I just clicked with her somehow. She loved my writing and gave me really useful critiques. I would hang around after class to chat for a couple minutes because my next class was only three or four rooms away, and she treated me like a person. Like a real writer. She wanted to see my book, the one I had just finished writing. I lugged all 673 pages in to show her, and she read parts of it and told me I had an impressive imagination. She was the first person to ask me why I liked writing in first person. I hadn’t thought about it until then, only that I knew it was the style I loved reading more than any other. I told her that writing in that voice made me feel like I was slipping into another person for awhile, and seemed to help me pick up on sensory details easier than if I wrote in a third-person narrative style.

And then, in the middle of the school year, that class ended and I went on to the second half of the year in Miss Ranger’s drama class. To my great surprise, that discussion about first-person narration came into play almost immediately when my teacher had us “hold an imaginary glass of water and be afraid to take a drink, even though you are thirsty” on the first day.

This single exercise seemed so simple, and yet kids were having trouble doing it left and right. She walked through the classroom, watching each student carefully to see how authentic our little initial acting-attempts were. She would declare, “No, I don’t believe you” or “I believe you” for each one of us. I was nervous, since a lot of kids I didn’t know yet were in this class and I didn’t want to screw up the first thing we did.

So I saw the water. I knew what glass it was in (one of our dinner glasses from home) and was feeling the sensation of a dry mouth. I easily got immersed in what I was doing as I created a little story in my head about what was wrong with the water. (I can’t recall it, now, though.) The thing was, I was IN my story. And it totally worked. Miss Ranger stopped in front of me, tilted her head (I didn’t look at her, just saw it in my peripheral vision as I focused) and she said, “All RIGHT. Nicely done!”

And then I was hooked on drama class. She was a tough teacher, and a lot of kids transferred out of her class as the first week or two went by. I think a lot of people thought it would just be an easy A, and it actually wasn’t. She made us do a lot of interesting improv exercises and she would cast us in scenes against type on purpose. Which I can admit I totally LOVED. Because I got to play a boy or man several times.

I love writing as a male. I love the challenge of thinking like a guy, seeing the world the way the other sex sees it. I always have. Don’t mistake this for something other than what it is, though! I’m totally straight, I know that for sure. I love men so much that I can’t help but love ‘playing’ them, too. Maybe it doesn’t make clear sense when I try to explain it here, but whatever. This is just how I am programmed to think when I’m in writer mode. I can see that, after over 20 years of thinking this way.

I drew immediate comparisons to the creative writing class and drama class and did very well jumping into characters at the drop of a hat. I loved cold reads, and even as an adult actor I enjoyed the audition process so much more if it didn’t call for a prepared monologue. In fact, I skipped those kind of auditions. I like thinking on my feet, immediate gut reactions, becoming someone I didn’t know… and then quickly becoming “possessed” as the character talked more and did more stuff as a scene went on. Ahh, so much fun. I don’t want to act in a real show anymore, but I wouldn’t mind sitting around cold-reading sometime just for fun. I should do it. I need to dig my scripts out again.

Writing and theater go hand in hand for me, or it used to. I was writing a lot more when I was doing shows back in high school and college, and also doing more shows when I was in writer-mode. The symbiotic relationship between my two hobbies was new, exciting and so energizing.

I miss that. Sometime after college, my writing began to slip in how frequently I did it. I did shows for a long time, and used theater as my main friend-making device when I moved to Arizona. But as I got older and more hardened by life, something sadly changed and I lost the connection between the two. Finally, one had to get the boot, and I chose theater. Writing is still, at the heart of me, my main THING. What I’m always going to be excited and passionate about.

But right now, as I struggle to hold onto my current resurgence in creative-writing-thought (thanks to reading), I’m thinking back to those very early days when I had two very great teachers pull something out of me and into the open, and helped me figure out just what I was all about, as a person. I want to remember those experiences in 10th grade, and try to live it again, because I really and truly want nothing more than to stay here in this frame of mind for longer than a few days.

Please, Universe… let me have this. Let me find this again and keep it going!

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2 responses »

  1. I get so excited when I know you’re writing. Like maybe some of that’ll rub off on me. It’s funny, because I’d be too terrified to act in front of people, but a part of me really wants to and I’d never connected that to my identity as a writer before. You may have given me an idea for how to get back into writing…

    Good luck with your projects, but take it easy on your wrist!

  2. My gosh, N… it’s just so nice to know that me blogging this, putting it online rather than keeping it private, can result in you and I connecting in some weird way as struggling writers. I like knowing I’m not alone in this, and seriously: thanks for saying cool stuff. That is all. I appreciate you.

    And I can tell you that taking an acting class would be GREAT for you! I was just like you, totally scared of getting up in front of people. I wouldn’t even raise my hand in class b/c I didn’t want to get called on. After that class, things got a little more vibrant and fun. It’s really refreshing and stimulating to a writer-brain to dive right into another person and walk and talk with someone else’s thoughts and voices, mixed with your own individual interpretation. Don’t worry, it’s not like you need to be in A SHOW and have a whole audience to get benefit out of acting. Not if you’re smart, anyway. 😉
    Which, you are.

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