Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nice little reading and writing interludes

The other morning, the day after I sent in my 3rd draft, I woke up in the morning and followed the usual morning routine: brought the book I was currently reading down to the kitchen, rinsed berries to put on top of cereal, etc. So, Jim and I ate breakfast, and at a certain point Jim left the table and got on with the day. But I stayed where I was and read. . . and read. . . and read. I made coffee, sat back down, kept reading. All morning. Until the book was finished. (It was The Sugar Queen, a delightful piece of romantic magical-realism from North Carolina, recommended by Stephanie.)

It was so lovely to just loll and read. Decadent. Lovely.

One evening a month or two ago, I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop, writing, when the power went out in our neighborhood -- and it didn't come back on. This hasn't happened before, and at first I was annoyed, but then. . . it turned out to be wonderful. I lit all the candles in the living room (including the gorgeous Anthropologie candelabra Alexandra is always trying to steal), which is something I almost never do (laziness?) and I discovered that the world is different by candlelight. Soft and wonderful. I almost felt like I stepped into a new room in my brain -- the next few hours of writing were so pleasant. It's funny to think now that I haven't had any more candle-lit evenings since then, just for fun. I don't know why not. Maybe I will plan to *begin* my new project that way, when it's time to get down to it: candles + new book to write. Nice! Like a ritual.

Have you had any lovely reading or writing interludes lately?


becky susanne said...

Candles do make the world seem different. Especially when there is no tv, radio, computer, or just the constant buzz of electricity to distract the brain. I like to read outside although the mosquitoes are vicious this time of year. maybe I'll try the candle lit thing...
-becky susanne

Anonymous said...

Wait, lighting candles is something you never do, or are you trying to suggest that stealingis something you never ever do? Because the latter is something that anyone who knows you knows that stealing is something you almost frequently do, and regarding this freaky candleabra situation, that is >mine so .... give it back to me already or you will have one giant knuckle sandwich headed right your way with the initials "J.A.S." carved right into it. Do you really want that for your next meal? I don't think you do. I really, really don't think you do!

Anonymous said...

I love it when the power goes out. When all you see is pure darkness with a few bright flames dsiturbing the black...whoa, breath-taking, magical, get it. it's splendid.
Perhaps I shall give the ritual a go...hmm.
Now, I don't exactly know what interlude means *grabs dictionary*, but I have become obsessed with the Breaking Dawn spoilers since I read your blog post about the whole Edward eating Bellas uterus thing.If you're that curious about what happens, I uncovered all the secrets and wrote about them on my blog.

Deirdre said...

I used to live in a re-modeled barn far out in the country, where the power went out quite often. I kept a collection of oil lamps and candles for just those nights when the world was very dark and it was too early to go to sleep. Sitting in a cirle of candle and lamp light with a book is cozy and magical and somehow a little wild. I never do it just "because" either.

Anonymous said...

Our power went out last night. The kids and I roasted/burned marshmallows over candles on our table. It was grand fun.

I've been reading "The Chanters of Tremaris" series by Kate Constable. I'm waiting impatiently for the third one to come in right now. It starts with "The Singer of All Songs" if anyone is interested.

S R Wood said...

Some years ago I had built a large shed of 2x4s and plastic in the back yard of the country farmhouse we were renting, and was using it to build a boat.

One June night a summer thunderstorm ripped through, shattering trees, flattening grass, and littering the ground with branches. At the height of the storm I went out to check on the shed. The flashlight showed bent swaying trees and white rain, and one entire end of the shed crushed beneath a fallen tree that had been taller than our house.

Our house was safe, and when the power went out and I found I couldn't sleep from worry, I crept downstairs and opened the windows (no power = no AC).

The storm had passed, though the horizon flickered with lightning and thunder growled. And the rain-smell swept through the windows and I sweated and lit candles and read Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire." I sipped throat-burning tequila in that dim yellow candlelight, and thought about storms and Abbey's desert landscape and rebuilding.

Years later, it's that moment I remember, more than seeing the tree on the crushed shed, or the rebuilding. You're right: there's something *different* about candlelight.

[Over the next week a neighbor and I cleaned up the fallen tree and I rebuilt the shed. The tree I sawed into lumber and incorporated it into a boat. Fall on my shed, will you?!]

Anonymous said...

Our power went out last night. We couldn't figure out why until we looked out the window and one of the telephone poles was on fire. I had to find my way through the house with only the light from my ipod.

Speaking of reading, and reading, and not being able to put a book down(which is always lovely) that happened to me just a few nights ago. I started Just Listen by sarah dessan at about 10:00. I read and i cried and didn't stop until three o'clock in the morning when i finished the book. When i was done i just sat there for a long time, and cried a little more. I woke up a few hours later with a head ache and swollen eyes, but it was very worth it.

~Stella said...

I have mixed feeling about power outages, but that has nothing to do with a delightful writing interlude that I had recently. Two months ago, I read a book called The View From Saturday. Dang, that was a sweet read ... like a puzzle, it was, all fitting together in a satisfying manner as it progressed with the perfect amount of complexity and tied together neatly at the end. Lovely.

Eileen W. said...

The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells are two of my favorite books!! She weaves a story so filled with fun, intrigue and Southern - style. I lived in NC- the Downeast part and the ski Mtn. areas- Boone, so it was great fun to "be back there."

I read a Patricia Briggs story lately, but I'm craving another Addison and am on the lookout as it may be.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Yippee! I'm happy you liked it!!

Alexandra Saperstein said...

I'm having a little nasal flashlight surgically implanted into my nostrils so I can read anytime in the dark. I'd like to have a little writing interlude soon. Maybe I'll come over soon and you guys can set up a hammock for me in the back and I'll read and you guys can bring me dinner and a little cobbler.