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On Reading

There's no safe space to write words, and perhaps not even death is as frightening as the blank page. There is only this: the very loud and yet silent expectation of what is to come. I feel this way about reading a book. There is a very loud silence of a closed book waiting to be read. It's been pulled out from the shelf. It's waiting for me. A shelf-escaped predator.


What if it's terrible? I could get invested in the characters only to discover it is a prologue and spin off into a book-hurling rage that the author has made me care and these characters are throw away characters. Worse, they belong to the prologue.


Or what if I like the book, but it's so boring through the first act that I put it down before I get to the point where I would like it. This anxiety is why some of us take St. Johns Wort with our meals three times a day.


What if twitter is more interesting than this book? I loathe the boredom of twitter where writers complain endlessly about the writing/publishing wheel of torture and yet manage to do nothing but continue spinning the wheel of torture.


So I look back at the book.


What if someone else likes it and I finish it and it's horrible? Like one of those books that shall not be named for its crimes against Individuals of Strong Political LeaningsTM. My friend can't stop talking about this book and I cannot stand to read another page of this drivel. Can we even be friends anymore?


There it is, the dreaded unread hardback, fresh off the TBR pile. Come-hither danger-eyed beckoning with it's mere presence. What if I just recycled it now and told no one?


You might like me.


Oh, I might love you.


And this is why it is so very hard to read and so very easy. The cover is a sheet of thick paper with ink printed pretty on it, or a sheet of thin paper wrapped around a trade cloth board, sometimes stamped with a decorative motif. It is, mechanically, very easy to open a cover. It is less easy to be Berne Brown vulnerable to what lies within.



This post is part of a series of daily writing exercises for 2020.


Today's post comes from a writing prompt found in A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Day of Inspiration and Encouragement by Barbara Abercrombie.


If you would like to join me in trying daily writing exercises, share what exercise you picked (on twitter or tag me on instagram) and if I pick your exercise tomorrow, I'll feature you on my website. Let's write more together.

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