One of my favorite short stories is "Mad House," by Richard Matheson (author of "I Am Legend"). In Mad House, a college professor is frustrated that everything in his life seems to go wrong. He resents his job, his students, and his wife. Things around the house always seem to break or cause injury. He has aspirations of becoming a writer, and he believes that a lack of time is what stands in his way. As his wife finally leaves him because of his frequent angry outbursts, he thinks, "Maybe I can do some writing then." Once his wife leaves however, more odd things occur, and it seems as if the house has actually turned against him.
This story has become a running gag between my husband and me, mostly because I have a lot of clumsy moments. Whenever I drop, break, or spill something, one of us yells "MAD HOUSE!" This story also hits home because I often have been guilty of blaming a lack of time for a lack of writing. The truth is that a lack of commitment is the only thing that can prevent someone from pursuing their passion. I have read a lot about writing, and I have notebooks and computers full of ideas and rough drafts that never actually become polished copy.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King wrote, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." This sounds simple enough, but when working a full time job, running to kids' activities, nagging kids about their homework, and reading to them for 15 to 30 minutes every night... by the time my children are in bed, about the only brain power I have left is to turn on the TV and watch whatever was most recently captured on the DVR. Thankfully, my husband has been on a Military and History channels kick lately, which is making books far more appealing.
In keeping with Stephen King's advice, I've issued a challenge to myself. My goal is to read at least 26 books by the end of 2011. To keep myself from reading too much of the same thing, I'm going to try to read a book by an author from each letter of the alphabet. Otherwise, I have a habit of re-reading the entire Harry Potter series or three books in a row by Stephen King.
The first book I read was "Prom," by Laurie Halse Anderson. I chose this book because young adult fiction is one of the genres I've dabbled in, and "Prom" looked like a quick, easy read. It was. Laurie Halse Anderson has written a number of wonderful young adult books. I highly recommend two of her other books, "Speak" and "Catalyst," but this one was just okay. "Prom" is about a girl who gets roped into rescuing her high school prom after a faculty adviser is busted for stealing the prom money. She doesn't really care about prom, but it's important to her friends. The story wasn't that fascinating to me, but Anderson excels at giving her characters voice. One of the great moments of the book is when the main character Ashley confesses to her mother that she broke the washing machine. Her mom responds, "Something is always broken. Most things can be fixed. Eat some ice cream. That usually helps." The talk becomes a great metaphor for all of the other challenges in Ashley's life. I give this book a C+.
The other book I read was "The Promise of Heaven," by Randy Alcorn, photography by John MacMurray. This was also a short read. I've never been a nature photography buff, so I'm not the best judge of the photos, but I appreciate the writing by Alcorn. Using Biblical reference, Alcorn attempts to define what Heaven will be like. Based on Isaiah 65:17, he refers to Heaven as the New Earth. It helps to keep your Bible handy when reading this one, because he doesn't always quote the full verses, but leaves them referenced as footnotes. There are times when I'm not sure I agree that all of his speculations have Biblical backing, but it makes for a good Bible study discussion. The most important point where I do agree with Alcorn is based on Revelation 21:4, that God promises that all of our sorrows will disappear forever on the New Earth. While other thoughts about Heaven may be speculation, that's an important point to hold on to in difficult times. I give this book a B.
What is everyone else reading these days?