Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reading reading reading

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we are not really living."
- Gail Sheehy
Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been very hungry. Hungry for knowledge, hungry for facts, and hungry for understanding. So to feed this hunger I have been reading book after book, and reading blogs, news Web sites, watching Cable News, and, really, absorbing any piece of information I can get my hand on.

So far, I've read Team of Rivals, Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,
The Defining Moment, How To Win Any Argument, No Ordinary Time, Outliers, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, as well as The Great Derangement. And more after that.
“What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us.”
- Thomas Carlyle
But reading books has only been one part of the wide array of information I take in. I love to find deeper meanings (whether or not it's actually there) in TV shows, movies, and books. It's all about people and how you deal with them. Working with people is key to getting anything done, so being smart about how you deal with people is almost more important than any knowledge and facts you may also know.

I was watching The Saint one night, and it is a great movie in which you can see how best to work with people. Give them what they want without them knowing you are doing just that. I mean, yeah, it's coldly calculating, but what part of life isn't? Not saying emotions shouldn't be involved, but one should understand the facts as well as the emotions, and then make the best move taking both into account separately.
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition.”
- Graham Greene
And reading and writing has always been something that keeps me sane. I mean, I was writing poems, stories, and movies in middle school and high school, and it was great help is dealing with a lot of the issues everyone goes through in childhood as well as helping me work through many of the other issues that faced me then and face me now. I am more relaxed and happy when I am writing. Poems seems to help me move on after I write them. Same with letters. And with stories, books I never finish, or screenplays always give me focus while I am writing them. Sometimes I wish I would get more feedback, but I need to move on from being so dependent on other's approval. Reading lets me focus without giving up too much energy.

Also, reading is a great tool to become a better writer. As is writing this blog. It is noted in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice doing anything before you get to be great at it. Goes for The Beatles as well as Bill Gates. And is goes for Beethoven as well as little-old me. So, while my attempts to work on my skills of crafting stories have really gone nowhere, I have been getting better, little by little, at simply using my words. You may disagree, but at last I'm having fun. So, really, little else matters.

I really wanted to talk about reading and the great power that words and books have, but one of my biggest problems has been an inablity to focus and get my point across. Welcome to my personal hell. I can be a great writer, and I could be a great thinker, but I am not a good person to really organize anything on my own. Working on the college newspaper, I always was more than happy to have people working with me to help me stay on topic.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
- E. L. Doctorow
I remember one moment where I was trying to focus enough to write an editorial (I don't remember if it had my name on it, or if it was for the staff editorial), but I could not state my points clearly and get to the conclusion. Two of the editors (my favs, Courtney and Jessica) helped me by giving me an outline. The format I normally always use when I write, the format I use (sometimes to no avail) on this blog, and I learned it there, from them. I've come a long way, but I still have miles to go. And a lot of hours reading, writing, but not having to worry about arithmetic.

Well, I am really glad that I have actually found the passion to start reading again at a really fast pace. I'm also lucky to have my lunch's which I read over, cus I'm just that weird. So, here's to hoping I never really stop reading and loving it. And you should read more then you are. Everyone should read more.
“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
- Ray Bradbury

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