Hard to imagine, right? My dad likes to brag that I had read every book in the school library by the time I was eight.
But now it was as if I had traded my love of reading for a new love, that of writing. And writers need to read to write. If success comes with sacrifice must it be the one thing that I need to do to be a writer? Could the two senses, writing and reading, not coincide?
It struck me in way it was like having your first baby. When my son was born all my love and affection went to him. It was so intense, this new love. It colored my entire world. It was a force that hit me and covered me in need, driving all my energy to it. Mothers know what I am talking about. You love your husband but a child–that is a crazy intense love that takes you unaware. Eventually, I found my own identity again as a mother and wife–and author. I had balance again.
And I realized I needed to find balance as a new author. I had become so sucked into the world of creating. My brain burst with words, ideas, dialogue, action, and characters speaking to me. I couldn’t slow my thoughts down. And in doing that I lost my love of reading. All of my energy went toward reading.
I knew I would need to force myself to read. Slow down my brain and allot time to read. And I did. From book to book I moved. I would read a few pages then move on like some wandering nomad. I couldn’t find my joy again. I couldn’t concentrate on the words.
Then a friend told me something that changed everything. She said now that I was an author I wouldn’t be happy with easy reads. I would need more stimulating books to challenge me. She was right. I had become bored with reading. I needed more. More from an author in the stories they created and words they chose. I wanted to be affected by what I read. Changed, transformed, and moved. I didn’t want to just occupy my time with empty entertainment, like watching TV.
I kept looking for the book to change me. One day I happened upon a sweet young adult book, Sparrow Road. It was beautiful and sad and hopeful. I cried (twice) as I read it straight through. I had fallen in love again. You can read my review of Sparrow Road here: (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/335479980).
Stephen King said, “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen.” I aim to be less of a fool for sure.
So then I thought, why not re-read my favorite books over again? The books I held onto for decades. The ones close to my heart. And that’s just what I’m doing. I’m re-reading White Fang now by Jack London, then it’s on to Fahrenheit 451 (RIP Ray Bradbury), The Secret Garden, The Crystal Cave, and Island of the Blue Dolphins.
As a writer I need to keep reading. And I’m glad I found my lost-love again. The Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, said “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
I’m glad my paradise is back. Have you lost and found your kind of paradise lately?
Donna Galanti is the author of the award-winning and bestselling novels A Human Element and A Hidden Element of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, and has had a career in marketing communications. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.