|USA vs Germany, 2009 Military World Cup|
Last month it crossed my mind (as I watched the Women’s World Cup) that while observing these professional matches, I concurrently learned about my own style of play. I found myself making mental notes throughout the games about the formations in which the teams played, how that affected the game, what worked well for individual players, and what failed to work. Soon thereafter, I went to Florida and Brazil to engage in a little competition myself (in a semi-pro soccer level of sorts) wherein I tried to apply those lessons I learned from watching others play. And it clicked: watching other teams play and then applying that to my own game is just like reading other authors and incorporating what I’ve learned from them into my own writing. To top it off, right about this same time, I came across a section in Stephen King’s book, On Writing, where he says as much: “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons are the ones which you teach yourself;” furthermore, aspiring authors who say they don’t really enjoy reading are absolutely fooling themselves if they think they’ll somehow be successful writers. You must be a reader to be a (good) writer!It is a happy coincidence for me then that from nine years old onward I was the quintessential juxtaposition of dork-jock (or what’s more commonly referred to as “student-athlete”). On bus rides to school, car rides to track meets, or waiting at doctors’ offices, I was the little girl with my nose in a book. I especially enjoyed all of Gary Paulson and John Kierkegaard’s books, as well as all of the Black Beauty Series books, and even the more “girly” Babysitters Club and Thoroughbred series. I would soak up any story about sports, animals, or nature. I lived in these books, feeling as though I knew the characters. (Don’t you love those books where you feel like the characters really do come to life?? 🙂 ) My grades, although not always my behavior, were a tangible reflection of the bookworm side of my personality: I got straight A’s in school and always did my homework. On the other hand, if I had an opportunity to play outside or try out for a new sports team, I was game! Somehow I managed to consume both books and sport full force early on in my life, an ability which I would continue to develop through adulthood. However, most of my professional positions post-college required so much reading on the job that I fell away from recreational reading for several years. Often feeling mentally exhausted at the end of my work day, picking up a book was the last thing I wanted to do in order to unwind. I missed personal reading, though; I missed getting to know the characters of my favorite books the way people feel like they get to “know” characters on sit-coms and reality TV shows; I missed seeing how they developed; I missed learning from them. I didn’t stop reading completely, but I wasn’t reading on nearly the level at which I had in my youth. Thus, when I got out of the Marine Corps in 2009 to begin my world travels, reading on my own terms again was one of my great pleasures. As I bounced around the globe, with ease I averaged finishing a book every week or two. But, alas, to work I returned in 2010 and my pleasure reading dropped off yet again. And wait, here I am, August 2011, “self-employed/unemployed” (by choice) once more with the time to read what I wish. So, as I’ve struggled a bit to really get into a reading and writing groove the last couple of months, I remind myself of my roots: a deep love of reading that my mother (an English and Creative Writing teacher), my father (history buff), my sister (creative genius), and my best friend in NC, Megan Crowson (book-lover extraordinaire), fostered in me back in 1991. I am confident that love will now serve me well as I attempt to write my own story. JOn that note, here is a writing “status update:” I gained focus this week. I completed a rough outline of the main book I plan to write first. (I have many book ideas that keep popping into my head, but I keep a file of notes on those miscellaneous ideas, to which I can return later). It still needs a lot of work before I can add it to my formal book proposal, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Many thanks to Lainie and Daniel Allen whose Focused Life Retreat I did in October 2009 provided the material for the outline I drafted yesterday. It’s such a relief to have something tangible done that I feel like is guiding me toward my larger goals. God is definitely at work in me right now! 😉 After re-reading my mission statement I wrote at that retreat, I must remind myself to have the courage to write what I feel called to write. Not everyone will want to read it, like it, or understand it, but that’s alright; I am not writing for all audiences. As long as I am genuine, as long as I am Semper Sarah 😉 , it will be ok.
My current reading list: On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Reinventing the Body Resurrecting The Soul by Deepak Chopra, and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I recently finished Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz and On Writing by Stephen King. On my list to read soon are Angela’s Ashes, The Lemon Tree, Mere Christianity, What The Dog Saw, The English Patient, and The Illusionist.Some of my favorites: The Language of God, Watership Down, Seabiscuit, Marley and Me, The Poisonwood Bible, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, A River Runs Through It, Neither Here Nor There, In a Sunburned Country, The Source, The Thornbirds, The Tender Bar, The Glass Castle, Sarah’s Key, Born To Run, Blink, The Tipping Point, My Sister’s Keeper, The Celestine Prophecy, The Alchemist, Searching For God Knows What, The Will To Power, The Sacred Romance, Captivating, The Kite Runner, The Grapes of Wrath, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Blue Like Jazz, and Case For Faith.
* Goal: To read more, and to understand that the time I spend reading is time invested in my writing. Oh, and I need to watch more soccer so I can become a better player, too! 😉