The tonic of a good book

I’m a busy person. I have a full time job and two kids, aged 14 and 9, both involved in every sport and school activity known to man. Time for myself is a luxury that I don’t find very often.  Yet somehow, I decided a few years ago I wanted to be a writer as well. I’ve written books “in my head” since I was a child, needing only a fleeting idea to light the spark of a full-blown story, but I never wrote any of it down. I told myself I didn’t have the time.

But I’ve always made time to read, no matter what has been going on in my life. I will read anything: a psychology textbook, a classic novel, an angsty YA novel, or the back of a cereal box. I really am an equal-opportunity reader. Reading makes me happy in a way that is difficult to describe; both empty and full at the same time. Satisfied.

When I decided to pursue the crazy dream of being a writer, I thought to myself, I do have time to write. The time I spend reading, I will instead spend writing. Perfect! Why hadn’t I though of this before?

For the most part, the plan was a good one. I write in bursts, in big chunks of time, the same way I read. So I stay up half the night writing, or I set my clock for 4 am. All good. If three or four days go by without writing, I get antsy in the same way I used to get when my life kept me from reading. I need to push, push, push until it’s done, and if I can’t find the time, I make the time. Usually I feel very good after writing. As satisfied and replete as I feel after reading a good book, maybe even more so. But I’ve had a fleeting worry that if I push too hard, I’ll lose that wonderful feeling. Will it come to feel like work instead?

This weekend I took a break from writing and decided to read. I picked a book that wasn’t written by anyone I know, and from a time in history with which I’m not very familiar. The Bloodletter’s Daughter by Linda Lafferty, a historical novel set in 17th century Bohemia. As I was sucked in to this glorious, complex, and sometimes overwhelming book, the stress of my life melted away. The knot between my shoulder blades is gone. I’m smiling today–the tonic of a good book has worked it’s magic once again.





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