Debating my stance as a writer lately...not whether or not I am one, there's no doubt writing is in my DNA, but rather how much or what kind of a writer I am. Before the love of writing came the love of books, and I have spent my literary life debating which is more important to me...because spending more time in one activity takes away from the other. Being a teacher, mother of three kids, and an active member of two communities (one in which I live and one in which I teach), both hobbies cannot garner equal playing time. I always feel the need to choose, which seems silly, because the two activities go hand in hand. I think the need to settle on a choice activity is because I can then not feel guilty when I'm spending more time doing one over the other.
Two things happened this past week that helped me settle into "who I am" in my reader vs writer debate. I went to Barnes and Noble with my 11-year-old daughter to spend our gift cards. We had a good amount between us, plus an extra teacher discount, which made our cards worth more. We spent a good two, almost three, hours looking at books, reading sections aloud, and drinking fancy coffee. When we had made our purchases and headed back to the cafe for more coffee, I sat down with my daughter and said, "I love my students and my job, but if I were to do anything else, I'd want to come here every day and shelf books and help people pick them out and find them. I would know this store like the back of my hand." Then a student of mine who works there was going on break, so I showed her the selections I had made for my classroom (she would be the first to read them , I knew).
Soon after the man sitting a few seats down from us asked, "Do you know any good authors for teens?" I laughed and asked, "Do you have something to write with?" He did and he already had a title to ask about. He was buying for his niece, trying to inspire a love of reading in her, but didn't want any material that crossed the line, so to speak. The title he had was a John Green book and I gave him Green's name and more of his books to look for. He asked for another author and I gave him the "Wake" trilogy by Lisa McMann (I actually had one of her newer books in my bag at that moment). He named a few that he had gathered from various sources and I told him the premise of each, because he was trying to avoid certain topics, and these were iffy-topic titles he mentioned. He thanked me and said he didn't want to take up too much of my time. Honestly, I was ready to march him off to the YA section and fill his arms with books!
Of course, the highlight of my day was the time with my daughter. It was so relaxed and we had so much fun just looking through books and talking. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't titillated by my conversation with the guy. Opening a whole new world (sorry Aladdin, but it's found in books) to someone...making connections...sharing something I love and know is beneficial...I was in my glory. And the fact that I had just stated this desire to share and then have him ask? I don't believe in coincidence!
The second event was a post I read on a writing friend's blog - Carolynn...with 2Ns. She talked about where she stands as a writer and how she feels ok about it. It forced me to truly debate with myself. What kind of writer am I? I am much, much happier reading a book than writing. And when I do write, it is usually short pieces: blog posts, articles or essays. Short, but complete and satisfying. Carolynn's post made me debate this and come to an understanding with myself.
Reading wins. I cannot live without books (that's Thomas Jefferson by the way and I have two of the exact plaque pictured above). And I know some may think, "Why choose?" What can I say? When I'm writing, I want to be reading and when I'm reading, I want to read more. It's not to say I give up on writing or that my writing mode won't change. I'm in an extremely busy season of my life and in a matter of years it will change again. My WIP will be something I continue to work with because I believe in my mother's story and I believe I am to write it. That has not changed at all. But I will not feel guilty when I choose reading over writing. The writing will come in its time and until then I have my books.
What kind of strange battles do you fight with yourself?