Blackberry Mountain
 
I remember having to stay after English-II Honors class my freshmen year of high school.  My teacher asked about my behavior during classes, and I simply told her The King and I was one of the most boring books I have ever read and found it all to be useless.  I was proud.  I thought it was cool that I told her how dumb the book was, and carried the attitude throughout English classes in high school and college, managing to get by with a B in most cases.  It’s funny how prideful I was on being such a nonintellectual.  What’s more ironic?  I met and fell in love with a poetry loving, fiction writing, English major.  Not only did that happen, but I married him so I am now wife to a writer.  Really the irony here does make me wonder if someone up there is giggling a little as I struggle to find the literature in myself. 

Jeremy writes most days, and upon returning home from work I am often greeted with a new poem or short story segment.  Some days the work is completely new to me and other days I find myself anxious to hear the next part of a developing story.  It is not always easy for me to sit and listen and understand what is being shared with me, because it is really much easier to be prideful about my lack of intellectual interest.  Jeremy has been writing for years, since long before I met him.  In the years since we have been married he has written quite a lot keeping me amazed at the ideas he produces.  I have learned a lot about the creative process as I have watched it work its magic through Jeremy’s pen and then again through his editing.  While there is part of me that still squirms at the thought of sitting and interpreting a story or poem, I am finding it to be a completely new learning experience (since it seems I goofed through the course the first time round).

I’ve been reading a book, on spirituality, with a lot of big words and lengthy descriptions that I am not used to.  I usually would put the book down pretty quickly, but Jeremy suggested holding the book in one hand and a pen in the other with a dictionary nearby.  I have taken a while to read the book but have learned so much, and even have notes in the margins to reflect on.  The process takes longer but everything else in life is so fast paced I am finding that it is actually quite nice to take time to read a piece of literature slowly, searching for the true meaning on the pages.  Even more, I am finding that I am able to use the same curiosity needed for reading, in work and everyday life.  Recently while preparing a children’s lesson for church, I realized that the ways we read and interpret scripture are not so different from the ways we read and interpret literature, and on the same page, the ways scripture was written—poetically, with deeper meaning, using metaphors, with passion—are very similar to the ways literature is written today and has been all the thousands of years in between. 

The thing about reading carefully and finding meaning is that I spend more time with one piece of literature in my hand no matter if it is scripture, a sappy romance novel, a book on spirituality, or a novel written by my husband.  Once I, the reader, dig in and find that there are layers to each piece of work and that everything is not on the surface, I can not help thinking about how much was put into the work by the author.  Living with a writer has really shown me this, and that for writers, so much is involved in pouring out your thoughts onto paper and forming them in a way that others will understand.  For the brave souls that put their work out there, writing means sharing your most personal ideas and beliefs with friends, family, and strangers, opening yourselves up to be criticized, praised, or unfortunately ignored.  Kudos to all of you for your hard work!

Through reading and writing, the mind can exercise and work in ways we cannot fathom.  When I take time to read, I find that my life is less stressful.  It allows me to spend time out of my constantly buzzing schedule and be still—to use my mind and not let it run on auto pilot.  Today I encourage you to read a little slower and dig a little deeper, you might be surprised at what you find.  And be sure to read Jeremy’s latest entries under A Writer’s Journal.