Running an errand this morning I noticed that the local elementary school had posted the words "Book Fair" on the notice board out front. Just those words and I was grinning all the way to the store and back.
Book fairs were one of my favorite things when I was in junior high and elementary school. Rows and rows of new books in the library that you could take home & keep--what could be better. Current paperbacks full of people and creatures that I had yet to meet. Oddly enough, it's similar to the way Lydia responds when we find an unexplored cave in Skyrim: "Hey, look, a cave. Wonder what's in there." That, for me, was the possibility of a book. What would I find and carry out of the new stories?
Which probably hints at why I've been a bit frustrated lately with the books on my shelf. Some of them, mostly the non-fiction ones, are interesting and give me something new to explore. But as I've tried to steer my writing in a different direction, my reading list has changed. The things that I'd like to carry out: tighter plots, more adrenaline, more romance are things that I don't find myself wanting to pick up. They are the things I never pick up in those caves: iron arrows, hide boots, potatoes. (Seriously. Can't bring myself to waste carry space on potatoes or cabbages.) The uber-gendered tropes that circle the characters like thick lines in a coloring book.
Somehow, I need to retain that sense of discovery that I had back in the day for reading in my own writing. And it doesn't need to be perfect or published for me to find it. In fact, it's better that it isn't. Writing was something that I always wanted to do without ever noticing that I was doing it.
Which seems an odd angle on which to end this post. However, I think that growing as a writer means acknowledging that you didn't invest the time in your craft when you should have and knowing that going forward your craft is going to remain strictly personal. Which is okay. I should have some cost for my lack of effort earlier.
There are still caves full of wonder and I can still poke around in them.