When I was in elementary school I used to look forward to a certain day. I’m talking about bouncing feet, stupid grin, can’t-sleep-at-night anticipation.
Christmas, you ask?
You’d think…but no.
Spring Break, then?
Not even close.
When I was young, the best day ever was the day that the Scholastic Book Order forms arrived. You know the ones-the flimsy pieces of newsprint chock full of glorious color pictures of books. I would comb through the order form over and over to decide which books my (amazing and generous) parents would buy me. I was methodical, calculating, and discerning about my book selections.
I remember circling the pictures of my selections like it was the Sears catalog at Christmas. (For you younger folks, that’s what we had before Toys R Us.) I had to get at least three books because with three books, you got the free bookmark or poster or whatever cheap trinket they used to entice us. After the books were chosen, the form tallied, and the check written, it was time to cut. I can still remember the feel of my red safety scissors as they tore through the form. I’m certain my tongue must have been sticking out as I carefully followed the dotted line and produced the most delightful rectangle ever.
I can tell you that my most beloved book, A WRINKLE IN TIME came from a Scholastic Book Order. It may sound cliché, but that book changed my life. It gave me a passion for reading, and although I didn’t define it as such at the time, it was the spark that ignited the fire within me to write.
Recently I’ve felt like some of that passion for writing had waned. I’m not saying I wanted to give up writing. I didn’t and I don’t. I think I’ve come to what is going to be hard for me-the revising. I was feeling lost and uninspired in spite of having virtually an army of supporters who believe in me and several author friends helping me wade through the revision. I was just…blah. Consequently, I was quick to make excuses when I had time to write. Each time I put it off, I became frustrated with myself and that made it worse.
But then last weekend I did something I hadn’t done in a while. (Since ALLEGIANT, actually.) I read. I picked up a book that I hadn’t read before and I read it. Then I read the sequel. And now I’m 40 chapters into the 3rd book. (*More on those books below). Something amazing happened-I got the same feeling that I used to get when it was Scholastic Book Order Form day. I couldn’t wait to get home from my day job and revise. I had thoughts and ideas throughout my day on Monday. It was almost like I couldn’t turn them off. (None of these match anything from the books I read, mind you. )Inspiration struck and I could barely get it out on the page fast enough.
Words can do that to you.
If you’re a writer and you’re not reading, then you’re doing it wrong. I know that’s a bold statement for someone who is unpublished, but a lot of published authors have said the same. Reading is essential to writing. I experienced first-hand. I’m making a promise to myself to never quit reading.
If I could get my boss to hand out Scholastic Book Order Forms at work, I would. I bet some of my co-workers would order books too.
*The books I (finally) read were THE MAZE RUNNER, THE SCORCH TRIALS, and THE DEATH CURE by James Dashner. They contain a lot of what I’d call “Master Class level” suspense. He puts in just enough mystery and leaves just enough to the imagination to keep you guessing and turning pages. I enjoyed the directness of his writing voice too. I can’t wait to see the movie!