True story. I was at the cottage, probably fifteen or sixteen-years-old, walking the gravel road to our country store, my face buried in a book. I’m sure bringing said book on a solitary three-quarter of a mile walk was my attempt at stealing a few moments of quiet from the usual cottage related shenanigans that were a constant at the McRobb Mob Inn.
Next door to the store was a century old farmhouse that had seen no home improvements since the original carpenters tucked their tool belts away –the floors were still dirt and there was no indoor plumbing. The farmer, Old Camack (his family name was Camack and he was extremely old) kept his one cow leashed to a fence post at the end of his driveway.
Bet you know where this is going.
Have you ever tried walking with your eyes closed? If so, you’ll know that it’s almost impossible to walk a straight line. Well, I can assure you walking with your nose buried in a book amounts to exactly the same thing. I can only imagine what that cow must have been thinking as she watched a skinny girl with a paper foldie thing clutched in her hands aiming straight for her. Bidding her time, that crafty old cow waited for our noses to almost touch before she let out a moo that sent me skyward. Once I recovered, I do seem to remember a hint of a smile curling around her lips.
I loved reading books then and l love reading books now! Reading brought me to writing. I know, I’m preaching to the choir, but it bears repeating; writers you have to READ. Okay I’ll get off my soapbox. You writers get it, right?
I’m a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by how they keep their personal space? (No you can’t come over to my house.) On a recent visit to a writer friend’s home, I was thrilled to see every inch of wall space in her sitting room was covered with bookshelves. Now that’s a writer for you. My house looks the same, except I could add; every flat surface in my bedroom and office is also covered with books.
Currently, I’m working my way through the 2012 Canada Reads shortlisted books. The Game – Ken Dryden, On the Cold Road – Dave Bidini, Prisoner of Tehran – Marina Nemat, Something Fierce – Carmen Acquire, The Tiger – John Vaillant. Although I’m only on the third of five, I highly recommend Prisoner of Tehran, but be warned—you won’t come out the other side the same person you went in. It’s a life changer!
I’m always looking for new books to read so let me know your current favourites and I’ll tell you mine.
I’ve attached a short video wherein Ian McEwan discusses showing up at your desk to write and schedule reading into your day.
6 responses to “I Walked Into a Cow Once!”
I used to be a voracious reader but since I’ve started writing, I’ve stopped reading. I don’t believe it was a conscious decision, I think maybe it was my brain registering writing as reading and the fear of stepping out of my book and into someone elses only to forget where I’d parked.
I am consciously working on fixing that. Dean Koontz and Stephen King are calling my name.
One of my instructors at Continuing Studies only reads novels written in the tense and POV that he’s writing in while he’s working on a specific project. Personally, when I’m stuck I like to pull a book off my bookshelf and read a few paragraphs. I consider those paragraphs as my tuning fork. When it was suggested I needed to give the reader better access to my character’s thoughts and observations (I’m writing in 1st person, past tense) I read Julien Barnes – Sense of an Ending to see how he did it. It worked. Start reading, dude.
I can so identify with the cow story. Except my close encounter was with the bull. Lucky for me I wasn’t wearing red at the time and I managed to escape with nothing more serious than a hand full of bull snot.
I also find my writing schedule cuts into my reading time. And when I’m working on a new idea, I find a significant amount of the reading time I do have is spent on non-fiction, which is rather ironic for someone who writes fantasy.
Were you reading at the time, and if so what? Even though I am now home (writing full-time), I still have to make a conscious effort to read. While I was working, it was 10X harder. If only the GTA transit connections were better, I would have been able to read enroute to work and back home, but alas I wasted 10 hours a week in my car. Eventually, I had the idea to listen to books on CD, but that became problemic when I became so engrossed in the stories and had no recollection of passing certain landmarks. I think they call that distracted driving! So I went back to wasting 10 hours/week.
I wasn’t reading. I was harvesting red clover blossoms in the cow pasture. Did not notice the bull heading straight for me until it was far too late to casually saunter back to the gate.
Poor cow! I can only imagine what she said to her barn mates when she returned that afternoon.
I have so many books at home that I have to admit that I have a problem. I am a bookaholic. I can’t resist them. My New Years Resolution: read what’s waiting on the shelf before buying another. Time to break resolution: 1 day.