Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reading vs Writing vs Kansas

November 5, 2014

 On November 11, Revival, the new novel from Stephen King, will be released. Months ago, I made sure that I was at the top of the hold list to borrow it from the Lawrence public library. Stephen King is one of my absolute favorites, and I always wait with high levels of anticipation for his books.
  Today, I'm canceling my hold. Not because I don't want to read it, but because the library lends new books with a two week limit, and I no longer have the time to read a novel in two weeks. Instead of enjoying the story, I'll be thinking of overdue fees. I don't need to be under pressure to finish a book that I'm trying to read for enjoyment.
  I'm also thinking of cutting back on reading altogether. Not stopping, I could never stop reading entirely, I'd go completely mad. It's just that I feel that sometimes I pick up my book when I should be picking up the pen. Reading, I think, is cutting into my writing time. I now see why my musician friends can't get enough of what they do.
  I notice when I tell some people I'm doing this, they raise their eyebrows, say "Cool", and move on. Maybe I really do seem like a silly dreamer to them. But do not underestimate me. I am very serious about this, and I am not viewing any of this as a hobby. Now it is time to stop approaching this as a hobby. It's time to get to work.
  Here, already, in November, I make my first resolution/goal for 2015. For 2015, my goal is to complete a first draft and start revisions on my first book, and maybe begin a first draft on my second. There's even a spore for a third, and a children's book idea to build on with my wife.

  In 2006, students from Xavier High School in New York City were asked to write to their favorite authors. Of everyone the students wrote to, the only one to send a return letter was the late Kurt Vonnegut. In his letter, besides thanking the students for writing to an old man such as himself, he encouraged the kids to do art. Any art. Painting, sculpting, music, acting, or writing. "Sing in the shower," he said. "Write a poem, even badly."
  "Not to get money," he wrote, "but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow."
  I implore each one of you reading this to take up this challenge. Take up an art form. See what's inside you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  I was born and raised in Kansas, and I'm proud to say so. I love my state, even when I don't necessarily love the politics. Sam Brownback's re-election does not bode well for education in this state for, at least, the next 4 years. Arts funding has already been gutted. Art breeds imagination, imagination in children breeds adults with new ideas.
  I'd like to ask those who would consider leaving our state to, instead, stay. Why run away from what you see as a failure, when we could work to fix it. Even little bit by little bit. I'd love someday to be the hometown writer visiting Kansas schools in the spirit of Mr. Vonnegut, encouraging kids to take up an art form. Or standing before the state education board. For now those are dreams, and I need to get to work on my book.

  Revival would make a great Christmas gift. ( Wink, Wink )