Joy vs. Responsibility

Depositphotos_1569183 backgroundPlease do not think this is a post about abandoning your responsibilities. Responsibilities play an important,  sometimes even a survival role in our lives. However, have you ever considered that some responsibilities, aren’t nearly so essential as you have convinced yourself they are?

Ever since I reconfigured my thinking about Literate Lives (Wow! Was it only a week ago?), I have been eager to write to all of you lovers of reading and writing, and those who yearn to embrace a lifestyle that incorporates reading and writing as a valued practice.

How did this happen?

The Birth of a Blog

In the beginning, I started Literate Lives as a means of giving back to the world. I had just retired from teaching, or so I thought, and wanted to continue to encourage people to read and write, and to foster a love of reading and writing in their children and students.

Why? Because reading and writing have been a source of tremendous blessing in my life, and I know the practice can be a blessing to others as well.

So, I prepared. I read all kinds of posts about how to blog. I learned it was important to have a purpose, set up a schedule, offer varied, valuable, and useful content. And I got so serious about blogging, it ceased to feel either worthwhile or fun.

So Why Are You Blogging, Anyway?

This was just one of the many questions my friend asked me last weekend. There are many answers–another whole post worth of answers. However, today I will provide just the micro version: I want to share the joys of a reading/writing life.

Another Question from My Friend

“So, if I’m reading a book and not enjoying it should I read it to the end anyway as part of my commitment to a reading lifestyle?”

My answer: “No. If you aren’t enjoying it, stop.” My purpose here is to celebrate the joys and benefits of reading. In my thinking, there is no drudgery allowed.

Doctor, Heal Thyself

As our question and answer session wound to a close, my dear friend dumped the pail of my philosophizing over my head. I had bemoaned my mixed feelings about the blog, how difficult it was to both teach and write novels, let alone keep up with a blog. Her response: “Don’t blog unless you feel like it.”

But what about all those rules about schedules and responsibilities?

And yet, she had a point. How can I write about the joys of a reading/writing lifestyle when doing so feels like a burden?

No Schedule

So, I decided to take her advice and quit worrying about a blog schedule.

Now, I find myself wanting to write to you far more than I have time to do it! All this week (Is it really just a week?) I have not so much looked for ways to squeeze in blogging time, as I have simply embraced the treat of sharing my love of literacy with you.

What a difference!

Do you have commitments in your life to activities you once undertook for pleasure that have become, instead, a burden? Is there a way you can reframe this activity for yourself that will permit you to recapture the joy?

Have you already done this? How did you make it work?

I would love to share your responses.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to read a novel!



What I’m Reading Now: Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024Aargh!!! It’s Friday, and I left my book at school.

During Reboot time (fifteen minutes of free reading or writing at the beginning of each class), I’ve been reading Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, the first in the her Grisha TrilogyIt is a gripping novel, with a likable main character, set in a fascinating Slavic sort of world.

Here is the blurb from her website:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

I am about three-quarters of the way through the novel and wanted to bring it home so I could binge read (instead the usual Reboot fifteen minutes of reading time) the rest of it.

Well, now I definitely have something to look forward to when I return to work on Monday. (I can’t hardly wait to start the next book in the series, Siege and Storm!)

What book have you been enjoying this week?

A Reading and Writing Lifestyle: Who is This Blog Written For?

Mini orange coffee cup with notebookYesterday, I had an awesome day with one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since I was five-years-old. We’ve done a lot of “life” together, and she is a beta-reader and encourager of my writing. One of the things that made it awesome (besides going to the craft store, eating decadent fudge for a our afternoon snack, and doing an entire jigsaw puzzle in one afternoon–okay, confession, it took us until midnight) was she sat down with this blog, asked me questions, provided some pointed critiques, and made lot of useful suggestions.

The Question

The question that floored me was, “Who is your reader?” This was accompanied by the observation that lots of times I talk about writing as a profession, and when I do, it makes her feel like this blog is really only intended for pros. Whoa!

That rules out a lot of my intended readership, including her!

So Who am I Writing To?

The stated purpose of Literate Lives is to encourage a reading/writing lifestlye.  This means I want to encourage a lifestyle that invests in reading and writing as a means of enrichment for anyone.

Anyone? That’s Kind of Vague

Yeah, it is isn’t it. Here are some mini portraits of potential Literate Lives readers:

  • someone who once loved to read but has been having a hard time prioritizing that pleasure in their life
  • someone who loves to read and loves to celebrate the pleasures and rewards of prioritizing reading in their lives
  • someone who interacts with young people and wants to facilitate skill and pleasure in reading, as well as writing, in these young people.
  • someone who enjoys journaling, letter writing, or otherwise capturing their thoughts and lives on paper or on screen
  • someone who aspires to be a professional writer, or already is, that can use a little encouragement
  • someone who is interested in the lives of writers
  • someone who enjoys multiple fiction genres, but has a special love for fantasy
  • someone who enjoys fiction across multiple age levels: that written for adults, young adults, and middle graders–kids from third to eighth grade

A Whole Lot of Anyones!

My mission is to love, serve, and encourage all of you.

There is work I need to do. Some of it is as simple as making some changes to the actual appearance of my blog to make it more reader friendly. Some of it is much broader, like tracking the kinds of posts I write and making sure I write across this broad range of readership.

Your feedback is highly valued. What can I do that would make following my blog a better experience for you ?

Reading Log: January & February 2016

61VJJDQF15L._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_January/February 2016 Reading Log

It’s been in “interesting” two months, and I can’t remember where the dividing line falls in the stack of books I’ve read since December. So, here it is: A January/February Reading Log.

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
  • Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy: 20 Dynamic Essays by Today’s Top Professionals by the Editors of Analog and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
  • Who was Edgar Allan Poe? by Jim Gigliotti
  • The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin
  • Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
  • The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • The Sorcerer Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World by Colin Wells
  • Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Reading Reflections

I loved Franklin’s mystery set in 12th century England, and the concluding books of Chima’s Heir Chronicles, were every bit as gripping as those I’d already read.

Lastly, I found Wells’ book fascinating. Between my Greek ancestry and a novel idea I’ve got simmering on a back burner, I find this empire, that lasted more than 1,100 years, mesmerizing. This slim book expanded my knowledge about the western European renaissance, my childhood faith–Greek Orthodoxy, and the world from which generations of my Greek ancestors sprang. I look forward to learning more about it.

What about you?

Have you read any good books lately? Please share authors, titles, and genres so we can all add to our “Books I Want to Read” lists.