When I was a little girl I'd crawl under the covers at night with a stolen flashlight and a library book to read quickly and hungrily, hoping against hope that I wouldn't be discovered. My brother, asleep in the bed across the room was all about music, but I was all words. My parents must have known what I was up to, but they turned a blind eye to my little habit, fostering in me a love for books and stories and the landscape of fiction as it played across my impressionable mind. I devoured books through High School, becoming the Editor in Chief of the monthly school newspaper and living words, layout and action shots. In college I stalked the halls of the Humanities building, reading everything I could find, sitting through lectures on poetry, short story, long fictions, art. I learned so much, it suffocated me a little bit. When I finally graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Women's Studies I was so thick with thought and literary rules I couldn't read anything serious for years. And I couldn't write at all. I still managed to read, but it was magazines, popular fluff novels, the occasional short story; nothing that inspired my inner artist; she was just too tired, too slammed by the responsibility of writing well.
Now that I have children, the time I have to read is even more limited. I've been struggling through Wicked reading only a few pages at a time, caught up in the story but continuously interrupted by my nursling who is wild with discomfort now that her teeth are coming in, or distracted by my toddler as she turns summersaults in the hallways. In some ways, I am still on a reading diet: small sips and tiny bites. But lately, I am gluttonous for more. I want to loose myself in the Time Traveler's journey or sink into the life of those suitors of the Little Chinese Seamstress or even run wild on the mountains that Prodigal Summer.
And I'm getting my fill. My secret is simple (and I'm happy to share!): my local library and audio books. These days, I listen in the car while we go from here to there or while sitting in a shady spot, both girls asleep in their seats. I itch to go anywhere, just so I can be taken across the sea or learn more about why American needs a major overhaul. I am falling in love with Barbara Kingsolver and am intently studying her voice: fluid and gentle and like someone I would love to sit and talk to while we work a garden plot. I am finding that there is so much more I need to know and am once again hungry to swallow the words that fill me with action, hope and passion. I am writing again, tenderly getting my feet wet here and on Mama Says Om. I am not creating more than I did in college, but what I am creating is infinitely more interesting and speaks to my own heart.
It's a lot like falling in love again. I just have to hope we never suffer another lover's spat.