The holiday weekend also gave me lots of time to clean up the house. It is the perfect procrastination technique and it impresses my in-laws. I don't know about you, but most of the time when I find myself in such a cleaning frenzy, it is because I'm trying to find something: missing car keys, important to-do lists, CDs, a favorite pen, the book I was just reading mere pages from the end?
My oldest took a look at the flurry of activity and wondered if I was hunting for the "Island of the Blue Dolphins," which she has just been assigned in school after reading (and re-reading) it two years ago.
|A (very) worn library copy of "Island" covers a
great book for reading and writing inspiration.
Alas, no "Island" in all my cleaning and so a library trip now appears on a new to-do list...another piece of paper for me to lose. I did find my teacher's copy of Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers, which is edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
Telling Stories is a superb collection of great tales, grouped in eight wonderfully named sections, such as "Dramatic Monologues," "Re-Visions: Reappropriations," and "Genre: Horror." Her introduction will hasten many readers to stop reading, to drop the book, to run get a notebook and pen, to start to tell a story. In fact, she begs that we tell our stories because we all have a strong instinct to be storytellers.
I hadn't picked up the well-worn copy in nearly a decade and was amazed by my margin notes, underlining, and check marks throughout. I was also amazed I have apparently left some stories unread. (Unread stories: another addition to the to-do list.)
I wish I could share more than just mere snippets here, maybe turning this into a psuedo-guest post by Joyce Carol Oates? Since she is so prolific, perhaps she might not notice? Nah. I wouldn't do that, but I will leave you with a sentence from her introduction that speaks to me and, I hope, to you:
"Every book, every story, every sentence we read is a part of our preparation for our own writing, so it's wise to choose our reading carefully, as an athlete trains carefully, as a musician practices at his or her instrument for hours and for years in pursuit of excellence, of fully realizing a talent."Again, many thanks to our fantastic readers. Thank you for reading...now, go grab a pen and paper and start telling your stories.
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a North Carolina-based writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter @Eliz_Humphrey as she documents her reading of the short stories she missed reading in Telling Stories.