I started to read at a very young age. The backs of cereal boxes. The entire cupboard where my brothers kept their hoard of Dell Comic Books, stacked high, three shelves deep. The oldies but goodies, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
Literature for the Young, suffered a dearth of supply, when I was the age of ten. By Middle School, a rare Middle School, I submerged myself in Profiles In Courage, A Night To Remember, Ivanhoe, To Kill A Mockingbird.
By the time I was a sophomore in High School, I was famished for more and thrust into an English Literature class, where I melted. I immersed myself in Beowulf, Yeats, and the remarkable T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson and the prose of Dylan...Rage, rage into the dying of the light...Thomas.
Light. I felt the Light Of the Prose wash over me, and I hungered for more. So it begins, the life of a Book Junkie. Not a night, not one single night ended without a book in my hands, lulling me to sleep. To sleep amid wondrous dreams filled with words and phrases exquisitely written as a lullaby. I did then and I do now, hunger each night for the eleven o’clock hour when I am alone with my books, my authors, my friends, my comfort and solitary joy.
No matter what challenges a day may bring. as the shadows of night close in, I am safely surrounded by authors who soothe me, challenge me, sound like me, whisper to me a message of complicity.
Write. They say. Write. Do not linger too long on the page. Find your own path with a pen. Guide your journey with a gut grabbing opening line. Tell your story. Screw the punctuation. Tell it. Just tell it. Say what you have to say.
So I do. Here in the silent moonless night, curled up and alone, I write. I read. I write. I read. I write. In an intimate sharing of ideas.
My nocturnal solitary solitude leads me to a place, far from cereal boxes and comic cartoons, to this new place of creation.
This is not a designer word studio. A Cheeto rests atop my notebook and I pause to crunch it between my teeth, as I pause in thought. Cheetos and late night meanderings are my weakness. Perhaps Emily D. sipped tea and T. S. smoked dope and Ernest and Faust and Dante tiptoed into the Netherworld.
I, I am so much less worldly, but I treasure the work. I skim when the prose is wickedly thin, but there are nights when I can only read three or four lines because each must be savored like a fine wine. Slowly swirling, swishing, distinguishing each and every ingredient on my palate. Too too rich for more than one sip at a time.
Foodies. I respect you. I honor you. To be able to cook well is divine. To be able to read beyond your means is the most divine gift of all.
Libraries are free. Open to all. Seek a book. Read beyond your ken. Buy a dictionary. Invest in a thesaurus. But for heaven’s sake....READ.
If you must start small, try the backs of cereal boxes, or highway signs.
And don’t forget the Cheetos.