They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.
from Love’s Labour’s Lost – Shakespeare
Advice I am ignoring: Read widely.
According to literary pundits, reading widely will make me a better writer. However, if you work full time and have a few kids to raise, and take seriously the other pundit proclamation that to be a good writer you must write – a lot – what’s a body to do?
- walking the dog
- making dinner or supervising dinner making
- going to the grocery store to buy missing ingredients for dinner
- supervising the post-dinner clean-up
- listening to job-hunting rant of 22 year old
- listening to French essay of 16 year old
- listening to World Cup of Hockey Championship stats spouting from 19 year old fanatic fan (Canada rules – again)
- doing mandated 30 minutes physio routine to enable body to sit without shooting pain in hips
- picking up/driving/giving driving lessons, or all three
- procuring feminine hygiene products at 8:30 p.m. because we’re out
should I read or write between nine and ten at night before I go to bed for the recommended 7.5 hours of sleep?
Solution: Read narrowly – read quotes. Yes! Reading quotes and quoting the quotes you read has many benefits but first a disclaimer: I have a limited ability to remember quotes. The ones I haul up from the memory cave are those that drip-drip-drip constantly from the word stalactites formed at an early age. Fragments of poetry, like
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
come to mind every spring when daffodil gangs grow. Or
They also serve who only stand and wait
because my grade 12 English teacher thought this was a lesson I needed to learn. (FYI, Mr. Randall, I’m still waiting.)
And In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
is a trilling ear-worm couplet that sings out when I happen to be in an art gallery.
Benefits of reading quotes
- Read quotes and use them on your blog to wow and cow your readers. You will be esteemed. How smart! How deep! How wise!
- Mount your newly discovered quote on a photo of pink under-lit clouds at sunset or on a golden prairie landscape and slap it up on Facebook, Tweet it, or turn it into a Snapchat streak, or Instagram it or PinIt and chances are you’ll be liked and reliked and re-re-reliked. Who wouldn’t like that?
- Save time. There’s no need to read Shakespeare. I found a nifty book at the library called “Shakespeare’s Insults – Educating your wit”. Here’s a sample from Midsummer Night’s Dream: “You juggler! You canker-blossom!”
- Save shelf space and dusting time by reading quotes on the internet site “Brainy Quotes”. Minimize clutter. Ditch the books. Rebel against mega stores Chapters/Indigo/Barnes and Noble/Amazon! Make your home an Ikea catalogue page.
- Save money. Get a library card. Pretend to read widely. Leave stacks of books on your desk at work folded open to famous poems.
- Get 7.5 hours of sleep. Shut the lights. Pull the shade. Put down the complete works of Wordsworth or W.H. Auden before you hurt yourself.
- More time to write or write about writing and search the internet for quotes about writing.
- No more reading pressure. Knowing nothing is the new knowing everything. (Ask Donald J. Trump.)
- Use the remaining books in the house to write erasure poetry.*** Or light the Christmas Yule log. Use Dylan Thomas’* “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” for this purpose.
- Avoid discomfort. The really good stuff in books is sometimes hard to read and requires thought. Pause. Reflection. Take, for instance, David Foster Wallace* – not that I’ve read him, just read about him – who Zadie Smith* says can’t be read at speed “…any more than I can get the hang of the Goldberg Variations** over a weekend.” As Wallace apparently said, and I quote:
“…in real life true pleasure is usually a by-product of hard work and discomfort.
*Note to self: Write a blog post on literary name-dropping.
**Further note to self: Write a blog post on classical music I know nothing about. Consider: How to do this since I know naught about any genre beyond 1970’s disco and Blue Rodeo’s “Five days in July” album.
***Ultimate note to self: Research and write post on modern poetic forms that no one will read.