Books and the Writing Life

To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things. Pablo Neruda

Two experiences this week sent me to my fiction bookcase. One was a friend of many years and is recovering from a stroke who said, “Bring me something interesting to read.” The other was this quote from Neruda.

I have seven shelves of fiction, if you count the shelf of books in Spanish which I’ve owned and kept since I lived in Mexico. One of the books I read while learning Spanish was Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s a verrrrry long book and took me months of reading with a Spanish/English dictionary at my side, but I was determined. And finished it after about a year. I can still read Platero y Yo, but it’s short and written for children. Not sure I can read Marquez anymore in the original, but I have several of his which are translated into English.

But I digress. As I often do. Looking for short and lovely books for my friend, who is 89, I chose Molly Fox’s Birthday, set in Ireland, and a book of New York essays by Paul Auster. Both books are short and both I’ve read more than once which my friend said was a good recommendation.

I can’t remember when books were NOT in my life. That, primarily, due to my mother, who was a reader and a writer, but her mother and father were readers and writers, so I guess reading books, and writing, falls into that family inheritance thing. Or gene pool.

As I’ve probably written previously, I’ve lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. That fact has both a plus and minus side: on the plus side, I know where most everything is – my books and papers and years of pieces of writing are all here in my writing room and not stored in boxes somewhere; the minus thing has to do with so much stuff in one house. We have, in fact, seven bookcases in this room, two downstairs, and one in the small office. My life in words. To which, it seems, I am right now, adding more. Oh, yeah, all the writing that’s stored in various places in one or the other computer.

Words. A life in words.

So thank you for the affection you send me after each of these rambling posts; in Neruda’s words… to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful

Thank you to each of you who responded to my frustration over the new and improved WordPress writing space – I think I’ve figured it out as this rambling post — NOT in blocks–attests. You all are the best audience I’ve ever had and your kindness and affection keep me warm in the times when I fret over not publishing this memoir. I guess, all in all, this blog is the best memoir I could have.

Love and gratitude to you all. J.

10 thoughts on “Books and the Writing Life

    1. Hi Brian, no I haven’t posted for awhile, but I wrote one tonight just for you. I’m not sure what happened as I’m still not used to this new WordPress thing, but it’s somewhere and titled Since You Asked.

    2. Well. I found the essay and posted it. This new WordPress is annoying and much more complicated than the old one, but then, I’m also old and would appreciate things not changing so much.
      Let me know if you finally find the essay. It’s for you.

      1. Yeah! I found it…! Didn’t find it the first time, so I found a backdoor… Though things change I’ve used computers since there were only punch cards… Thanks for the dedication. Lovely to read you. All the best in 2020.

  1. Glad you worked out your Word Press problem. Right now I’m having trouble with copy and paste in Microsoft Word. I’ve read the instructions but am missing some basic knowledge they must assume I have. It is lovely to be able to put this in writing. Thanks. ❤

    1. HiViv. Not sure what your problem is re: Microsoft Word and hope you’ve figured it out.

      Here’s what i do. I copy and paste by clicking on the piece I want to copy with the left button on my mouse and while pressing down, run the cursor over the piece to highlight. After highlighting, switch to right mouse button for the menu of copy/paste/cut whatever you wish to do, and then on the receiving document/page use the right mouse button again to click on where you want the cut piece to go. Hope this is clear. I’ve added a separate keyboard and mouse to my laptop because I’ve never gotten used to typing on the flat laptop keyboard. Without a mouse, cut and paste would be hard for me to accomplish!

  2. How interesting that just today I received Neruda’s The Sea and the Bells in the mail. I became aware of it because a quotation from Neruda supposedly came from that volume of poems. In fact, the quotation probably is apocryphal, but I got interested in the book anyway, and ordered it. Now, I get to read it!

    I’m glad you were able to work your way past all the difficulties with the new editor. Personally, I think Gutenberg may be rolling over in his grave to have such an abomination named after him, but I suppose it’s just WP trying to seem a little more sophisticated. My next project is trying to find an easy way to get all of my posts out of the WordPress cloud and onto my hard drive — with a hard copy to boot. There have been entirely too many instances of cloud servers going down recently, and I’m not ready to lose all my stuff!

    1. Your paragraph re: saving all your blog posts got me thinking! Oh. Yeah!! I have ten years of writing on WordPress. Right now, I’m slowly going through my posts and copy/paste them into a new document, but that is, as you might imagine, TEDIOUS! and time consuming. If you figure out a way to more effectively save your posts, please please let me know.

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