Writing Much, Despite Reading Struggles

Fragonard painting of woman reading

(painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read many fellow authors’ declarations of being avid readers when they were children. That they would sneak a book under their covers and get in another few precious moments of reading exciting books before their parents would remind them to go to sleep.

Others would talk about remembering reading at a very early age and loving it throughout their childhood into their adult years. This dedication and love of reading books led them to write books themselves. And this seems to make a whole lot of sense. You read a lot, you get ideas, and you naturally write with these inspirational stories having primed the creative pump in your imaginative brain.

But this wasn’t my experience.

At times I feel both sad and amazed that my writing journey is not the usual, logical path of my fellow writers. I’m an anomaly of sorts. I truly believe it.

I grew up hating to read. As early as I can remember, I had little interest in books, other than to look at the colorful pictures and at times, listen to my dad or a teacher read a story to me and my fellow students.

young girl reading book

Reading had been a struggle for me, a lot of hard work. By mid grade school age, it was discovered I had reading comprehension problems. When my dad wasn’t away on a case (he was a lawyer and a judge in the Air Force), he’d spend an hour or so a night sitting with me on the couch, listening to me read aloud one of the classics in large, vivid books with plenty of pictures, but with age-appropriate, tough words.

I remember agonizing through reading each sentence. It was so laborious–a tremendous mental work akin to the hard, physical work of pushing a heavy rock up a steep hill. But Dad kept encouraging me, guiding me along, patiently working with me for about three years (around fourth to sixth grade).

I went into junior high school still struggling to a certain extent, with little interest in reading, let alone learning. This was my academic path throughout high school, as well.

But something had changed. I did read a few assigned books in my English literature class in eleventh grade, and when I a sophomore, I fell in love with the North & South TV mini-series and ended up reading the first two books in the series. Also, when I was eighteen and nineteen, I read the whole eight-volume series of the Kent Family Chronicles (both series written by John Jakes).

I think, perhaps, watching TV and movies helped me create my stories in lieu of reading. I’ve always been a visual learner.

As for gaining an interest in learning, it wasn’t until I went to business college a couple of years after graduating high school, that I was ready to learn and wanted to learn.

But here’s the unbelievable part of my journey.

Throughout all of my struggles with reading, I wrote all the time with little effort, from second grade all the way through my teens and early twenties before putting it aside when I married and had children.

As you know, if you read any of my older blog posts, I returned to writing in 2014, and it felt so good to be back where I believe I belonged.

How could a child, a young girl, a woman, write stories with plots, decent sentence structures, spelling, some stories over a hundred pages in length, but rarely ever pick up a book until her late teens, early twenties?

It’s a tiny miracle to me.

shining bright light of miracles

This tiny miracle tells me this is my talent, God’s gift to me.

I finally realized this only about two years ago. It hit me like a refreshing, cool breeze on a warm spring day. And I’m so glad it did. Since my early twenties, I’ve been reading and continue to read many, many books.

 

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Too Many Gadgets, Too Little Memory

electronic stuff

We bought a new car in March.  We hadn’t bought a new car since 2005, and before that, 1999.  So, you can imagine how bewildered we were….correction, I was…my husband took it all in without so much as a blink….when the car salesman introduced us to all the gadgets on our new car and how they worked.

To be honest, I was intimidated by it all.  The alert beeps for your blind spot, for warning me when any exterior part of my car was close to touching another car or any other object or person, the annoying humming sound that vibrated me into panic mode if I wandered an inch over the dividing lines on the highway, and all the lit up little icons on the dashboard and little screen.

It was overwhelming at first, but once I drove the car the first time, I relaxed a bit, even if I didn’t know how everything worked outside your regular immediate buttons and such.

It got me thinking about the technological advances over the years and decades since I was a child.  I grew up during my elementary school years with my parents purchasing one of the first VHS recorders.  My growing up years was also the time when TV remote controls came out and cordless telephones.

Related image

Pong, the first video game I remember came out, followed by Atari, for which my parents bought.  Who could forget playing those video games with those ancient joysticks that caused hand and thumb pain within a couple hours?  Good old Atari games like Astroids, Centipede, Pac-Man, Maze Craze, Space Invaders, Frogger, and Pit Fall.

atari video console

In the music realm, boom boxes were in, that were a combination of radio and tape cassette player, with a mic jack and two speakers.  And the Walkman became popular shortly after, I think.

boom box

Dad’s Commodore 64 with its permanent blue screen sat on his desk in my teen years.  When I was sixteen, I used that computer to type up my first novel.

commodore 64 computer screen

I remember when my parents bought me a cell phone around 1993 for me to have in case my car broke down.  It was bulky and weighed a ton.

Related image

And I distinctly remember my first caller ID.  None of my friends or family had one at that time.  It was so cool being able to see who called at that time because I lived in my apartment then and could tell when a guy I liked called, but he didn’t know I knew.  Haha!

Image result for public domain pictures of the first caller IDs from 1993

And then came the CDs, DVDs, desk top computers, etc.  All of those new gadgets were pretty cool.  They didn’t make us too lazy.  But I’d have to say, that’s changed.

I’ve been watching many TED Talks on our addiction to our computers and phones, and also, the gadgets that think for us, like our car’s lights shutting on and off on their own, the doors locking and unlocking on their own, warning lights and beeping sounds to alert us to a danger of a car too close to ours, and the like.

Our cell phones keeping our appointments, waking us up for work in the morning, storing all of our friends and family members’ phone numbers, telling us how many calories the meal is that’s sitting in front of us at lunch or dinner.  You know what I’m talking about.

These are all very convenient, easy, and helpful.  But they also make us lazy and lose our ability to remember/memorize things, such as an appointment date or a friend’s phone number.

I don’t even know my family member’s cell numbers, except my husband’s.  I don’t know my sister’s or my mother’s by heart.  That is truly pathetic.  When I was a teen up through my thirties, I could dial a number no more than twice, and it would be stuck in my memory from then on.  Because I don’t have to remember these numbers since they’re stored in my phone, they aren’t memorized.

Now, I realize when one gets older, a little help in the memory department is needed, but our brain’s memory can be boosted by walking or doing jigsaw puzzles, for example.

So, I ignore focusing solely on the camera on the small screen in my car and physically look behind me when backing up, and make sure I still look toward the blind spot before moving into another lane.  I manually lock my car doors when I get into my car most especially in parking lots.  I think it’s the safe thing to do for us women going grocery shopping and other places by ourselves.

I don’t think we can rely so much on computers.  They do malfunction at times, have glitches, and can be hacked.  Obviously, you can guess I’m not one of those people who is anxiously awaiting buying or traveling in a driverless car.  I think I’ll skip that, thank you very much!

In my psychology course I took a couple of years ago at my university, I learned the twenty-first century sedentary lifestyle is not normal or healthy for the human body and mind.  We are meant to move and move around often, and use our minds critically.  If we’re not careful, we’ll become like the folks in the Pixar movie, WALL-E.  Was that not a glimpse into the future, or what?

WALL-E pic 2

We have to find ways to exercise these days.  Join a gym.  Join an exercise class.  Buy exercise equipment.  Pencil in jogging several times a week.  When in the generations before this age, people walked or rode their bikes to work, worked outside, walked to stores, opened their cars’ hatchbacks, manually rolled up and down their cars’ windows, lifted their garage doors, and got up to turn off their TVs.

Since being a sloth is too familiar to me, I struggle to get up the energy, and it’s even harder because of my time spent on the computer for too many hours a day.  It is my goal to keep doing things that jog my memory, such as walking and doing jigsaw puzzles, and doing what I said above with regards to my car.  I even started doing tai chi two weeks ago.  It brings me stress relief and serenity.  Do you do anything to keep your mind working and body in motion to counter today’s sedentary lifestyle?

 

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Big Wheels in a Bountiful Era

big wheel from the 1970s love

Growing up in the 1970s was a fun time.  Aside from my daily attempts in creating various flying apparatuses, I had this amazing machine that took me everywhere with the pumping of its pedals.  It only had an emergency brake, but it was employed when it was absolutely necessary, which was never.  Its colors were a daring yellow, patriotic blue, and powerful red.  The machine had an adjustable seat, and for decoration, streamers sprouted from its handles.

This powerful, glorious machine was called a Big Wheel because the front and back wheels were…well…BIG.  They ran over anything in their path, flattening these things as thin as tracing paper.

Many mornings if I wasn’t scraping my metal-wheeled roller skates (I got the rubber wheels later) across the asphalt at six a.m. (you know the neighbors loved that), I’d hop on my power vehicle and pedal down the side walk (or pavement, depending on where we were living at the time), ready to ride the day away.

If anyone tried to harass me by chasing after me via foot or bike, I’d take off on my trusty Big Wheel, squealing out of the vicinity, sparks snapping off my back monster wheels, a dusty cloud floating in my wake.  Blind from the dust and stunned by the super sonic speed of my Big Wheel, my bullies were left to wallow in defeat.

Years later when I no longer could fully fit in the seat of my beloved machine, I’d clasp its worn handles, place one sneaker on its seat, and push with the other, transforming it into a type of stylish and speedy scooter.  Alas, eventually, my trusty transport had to retire and live with its buddies in the hallowed halls of Big Wheel Memories…memories that stay with me forever.

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