I am what I read.

image from pixaby.com

image from pixaby.com

By the close of summer, I’m often tired of my fair-weather pace. I tend to catch colds this time of year…my body nudging me toward rest when I disregard its subtler cues. One more hurdle, one more commitment, one more task, one more…cough cough.

I’m ready to surrender to the slowness of fall. My characters are stretching and yawning – a sure sign of my approaching hibernation. Autumn suits me. It’s a time of tethering those parts of me that I’ve flung wide while venturing from my cozy burrow to bathe in some overdue sunshine.

Sometimes I feel like a sponge, sucking feelings out of the air as if they’re spilled water. Is this a writer thing? A plague of empathy? An inability to separate oneself from the pathos of life? Do all humans do this?

I am what I read. I am what I write – a torch of outrage at injustice, a soggy heart at tales of loss, grinning like a lovestruck moon. I’m tickled into laughter, sailing with beauty, and slogging through the morass of political hell. Every choice, every action, every motivation is sparked by emotion. I’m not a rational being. My feelings wear me out.

Books tend to infuse and reflect my state of mind. Do your books do that for you? To you?

If I read an inspiring story, my words are sweeter, hopeful, and I believe that love will prevail over fear. Blogging is honey for my soul as I am blown away by the generosity of spirit that scrolls across my screen. All over the globe there are people who restore/restory my faith in humanity, sharing poignant tales of love and loss, of sacrifice and courage. Your words bring laughter and tears, draw the world’s vast human landscape within reach of my chair. You remind me of the myriad ways we are brothers and sisters, and I reap the needed faith to pour love and hope onto the pages I write.

If I’m troubled by the brutality of mankind, as I often am, that too bleeds into my work. My mother complains that my books are violent, and all I can say in response is “look around you.” I can’t pretend that what rends my heart and fires my blood doesn’t exist. I can’t erase it from the slate of my memory. I can’t unfeel it.

Lately, I sense my mood darkening, so it’s time for a boost of inspiration and infusion of peace. It happens that I recently received a 3 day, 3 quote challenge. To prepare, I’ve picked up one of my favorite books for a reread – something I rarely do, but who am I to argue with synchronicity.

Anam Cara, by Irish poet and theologian John O’Donohue, rests at the top of my heart’s list.  I’ll be revisiting the dog-eared pages, my old highlights and underlines promising gems of faith and ancient magic. I’ll choose a few – okay, more like 9 – favorite quotes to share with you.

Happy writing and peace.

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

113 thoughts on “I am what I read.

  1. joannesisco says:

    Oh My God!, your writing is beautiful.

    You completely nailed it for me with the paragraph “Sometimes I feel like a sponge, sucking feelings out of the air as if they’re spilled water. Is this a writer thing? A plague of empathy? An inability to separate oneself from the pathos of life? Do all humans do this?”
    How fortunate that you’ve been able to channel this empathy into your writing rather than simply be uncontrollably bounced around by it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m bounced too! I see stories everywhere and they’re often heartbreaking. Even the happy moments feel poignant. You’re so right that writing is a good outlet for my feelings 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting and the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sacha Black says:

    blimey – this is a powerful paragraph

    “If I’m troubled by the brutality of mankind, as I often am, that too bleeds into my work. My mother complains that my books are violent, and all I can say in response is “look around you.” I can’t pretend that what rends my heart and fires my blood doesn’t exist. I can’t erase it from the slate of my memory. I can’t unfeel it.”

    look around you? – god, sometimes the truth is so brutal, this was a sharp reminder to me. sharp because I find it horrifying that I agree. Its why I gave up watching the news, I don’t like to start my day on such a negative, and it is always the same stories of savage acts of inhumanity. I feel it. Every day. Its exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Sacha. I watch too much news and need to take a break when my head and heart start to explode. I don’t want to pretend like everything is rainbows and butterflies, but it does wear me down. At the same time, I meant what I said about blogging …it connects me to the human world in a hopeful way. Being kind and creative and honoring each other’s journey is powerful stuff, and if anything saves the world, this will be part of the solution! 🙂

      Like

  3. This is a very beautiful summation, thank you for sharing. I do believe that we are what we read. I think I am better for reading some of the great works of literature, even some of the works that I didn’t like at that time. My hibernation time is winter, I find it very difficult to become motivated and to actually get moving when it is cold, dreary, sleeting, rain-snow. I hate being cold, but I’m in Texas where most of the time it isn’t that cold compared to other places. I must be a wimp, ha ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I really hope I’m not what I read. If I am, not only am I in the wrong century, I’m not even the sex I thought I was. Having said that, it would explain a lot. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. babbitman says:

    I guess I’m a rarity in being creative but not being hugely affected by my surroundings or input material – I’m often in a little world of my own 😉
    Having said that, some books do make you want to crack on and write (I’m particularly enjoying a rather fabulous story called Sunwielder at the moment…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awww. The guys seem to like that story more than the gals. Thanks so much! “Fabulous” works for me 😀
      I’m usually pretty grounded despite being sensitive to emotional winds. Summers are hectic and I watch too much news. Now and then I wear down and need my own little introverted world. There’s something to be said for emotional steadiness, knowing who you are and making choices based on a solid foundation. Does that sound like you? Happy reading, and crack on and write!

      Liked by 3 people

      • babbitman says:

        Yes, it takes a lot to get me emotional (upset or angry) but I’m always up for a chuckle (satire is one of my favourites). My wife is far more likely to get stressed, anxious, worried and upset – I’m there to calm her down! Funnily enough, she too would like to hibernate for the winter – we live at 53 degrees north in the middle of England, which is about the same latitude as Edmonton in Canada and we have a huge daylight disparity between summer (16.7 hours) and winter (7.3 hours). It’s even worse for those in Scotland and Scandinavia!
        Apparently, the average difference for Oregon is a mere 6.6 hours rather than nearly 10 so don’t move any further north!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I had no idea the daylight difference is so huge in England. I don’t mind the cold, but the lack of light might get to me after a while. I’d need one of those sunboxes. I’ll make sure my future visit to the Isles is during the peak of summer!

          Liked by 1 person

          • babbitman says:

            Yes, summer in Britain is actually really rather lovely when the sun is shining and the weather is warm – the good side of a northern latitude is that a warm summer evening goes on for hours and hours! I’ve mowed the lawn after 9 pm and not cut my toes off due to poor light!

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Damyanti says:

    I pick books according to my mood. When sad, I would never pick a heavy, dense book. It invariably makes me physically ill, no matter how good the book is. I’m planning a reading vacation next year– a month of nothing but me and my books.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Julie says:

    There’s nothing like ‘falling’ into a good book, except for falling into it for a 2nd go round. Words once treasured are twice as much loved.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Steph Mignon says:

    I KNOW exactly what you mean! Good books/blogs/writing make me better, make me feel, make me motivated. Love this. And here’s to a lightening of the darkness!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jed Jurchenko says:

    Yes, I’m ready to surrender to the slowness of fall as well. The thought of sitting next to the fireplace, with a good book, and a hot cup of coffee, is very appealing right now 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sorry to hear you’re ill. I get sick also when I get run down. Sleep helps to heal. Books have an effect om me also. I hope you feel better soon. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just a little cold, Suzanne. Our last summer festival was last Saturday and my volunteer activities slow down a touch. The grandson is on vaca with his parents, so no sitting this week. Lots of rest planned and a really good book to lift the spirits. 🙂

      Like

  11. Sue Vincent says:

    I bend like the willow in the breeze as I read… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. balroop2013 says:

    Yes, it is so true Diana. I too get influenced by what I read and that’a why I avoid reading darker books. One such book, which recently put me off was ‘Dark places’. I wonder how it became a best seller! I abandoned it half way.

    I try to read something positive, it keeps me buoyant and motivated to write. whenever I read a good book, I write poetry and it flows spontaneously.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the visit, Balroop. I read all kinds of fiction, both dark and light. My writing tends toward grimness and I spend a lot of time in the heads of my suffering characters. That’s manageable. But the shootings here were emotionally tough and tipped the scales. This week, I’ll balance it out with some inspiring reading. So wonderful that you’ve found your process and niche. Your poetry is beautiful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I do think what we reads seeps into us and comes out in what we write and how we write it. I think I have even seen this in the blogosphere recently, where there is sometimes an odd synchronicity in the posts of the people I follow within any given month or so.

    And oh, the pushing limits and the colds! I have one right now after doing an impulsive and silly thing: I have been working with a germophobe, and while talking with her, I became flippant and licked my phone to make a point. Bwa ha ha! She is going to be so happy to learn I got sick!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha ha. You licked your phone? You are too funny! I would have done the same thing, I’ll admit it. I only get sick when I get run down. Otherwise, I’m a woman of steel. Give me your snotty toddlers and just see if I catch a cold.

      And yes, I see the same themes and topics come up on the blogosphere. I think we are affected by what we read, though I also think we are all so similar as humans that our experiences, in general, are bound to cycle and overlap. It’s one reason why this is so rewarding – there are others who understand and can hold our hands along the way.

      Hope you feel better soon, Jane. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Erik says:

      I totally would have licked the phone, too, Jane! I am cantankerous (and a risk-taker).

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I think you need to guard your mind. Words and images have a power of their own that we don’t always understand.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for the caring comment ❤
      I agree with your advice, at times. On the other hand, as a writer, I think a willingness to journey to those dark places is part of the process. Balancing the dark with mindfulness of the wonderfully light parts of life, for me, is the other side of the writing coin. All these feelings inform my stories.
      As an introvert, summer sociability takes its toll even though it's full of fun. The retreat during autumn and winter is to replenish my well by spending a bit of cozy time writing by the woodstove and drinking tea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Bernadette says:

    I think you need to guard your mind. Words and images have a power that we don’t always understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Steven Baird says:

    Beautifully written. Hibernation sounds so welcoming. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “Sometimes I feel like a sponge, sucking feelings out of the air as if they’re spilled water. Is this a writer thing? A plague of empathy? An inability to separate oneself from the pathos of life? Do all humans do this?” Yes, it is a writer thing, I believe. To separate from the pathos of life is to have nothing to write. No, all humans do not do this. The sociopaths and psychopaths lack empathy. Embrace Autumn as it is the breath of fresh air between hot Summer and cold Winter. Besides, the leaves are colorful, the weather cool, and hot chocolate is good.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Oh and yes! Whatever I read does affect my moods. So does television. So I try not to watch or read anything too terribly sad. I am depressed and cranky for the rest of the day after that! Just like when my husband watches one of his football games and his team loses. I try to avoid him for the rest of the day when that happens. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Television! Yes. Especially these days. There’s so much hostility and sadness in the world, it does wear me down. I told my husband that we need to watch less news. Football is okay; he can watch that 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Erik says:

      I’m the same with TV. I don’t even own one, partly because there’s too much else to do in life, and partly because I’m very careful about what goes into my mind. Other family members watch forensics or murder shows quite literally all day long, and when I’m visiting, it seems I’m being unreasonable when I ask if they could give it a break for a bit while I’m there. Books allow choice of topic, emotional range and pacing – the best of all worlds.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I feel the exact same way Erik. I fight this battle daily with my hubby who watches old re-runs of CSI, The Mentalist, Etc… He doesn’t have any other hobbies and so this is what he does in his free time Opposites attract I guess! I could quite frankly, go without television for the rest of my life. The quiet of life without it, would be so much more satisfying. Guess I’ll just have to dream of a day like that! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • But…but….but what about zombies? Ha ha.
          Truthfully, I’m with the two of you. I could live without TV easily. My husband has it on all the time, which is why I have a writing room as a retreat. If he wants me to hang out with him, the TV goes off. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • My husband has started wearing headphones for my sake. And thankfully I don’t usually even have to ask him anymore to put them on. I now have a writing room off of the living room. Unfortunately, I can still hear the television, even with the door closed. It amazing how one little distraction can hurt a creative mind.

            Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve recently discovered that my best writing comes when I write about dark and mysterious things. I suppose our world is full of things that are dark and we are seeking answers to life’s mysterious ways. I asked one of my children to critique some of my work yesterday. She liked my vampire story the best! Go figure… Ha ha ha! She said, “Don’t worry mom, you can bring glory to God in whatever you write! Just finish your vampire story and make it God worthy! I thought to myself, how will I ever do that! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Reblogged this on Ace Sales & Authors News and commented:
    Absolutely agree with you title – l was told by my parents – you are what you eat and looking st today’s world – how true that is! Nice post 👌

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I do love reading what everyone writes and agree we are all some how linked and more alike than we realize! Blogging is a great way to see this and something that has truly amazed me!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Another lovely post 🙂

    “Sometimes I feel like a sponge, sucking feelings out of the air as if they’re spilled water” – that’s the bane of my existence, and why I avoid crowds at all costs. Do you also get headaches, or is that just me?

    Liked by 2 people

  23. ..we are indeed a united kindred spirit tribe, m’Lady, Diane… with you every syllable of the way in this post ..LUVVED IT! 🙂 cheers 🙂 would you care to consider adding a Guest Post piece for my wee blog page ? cheers :0

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I hope that you get some rest and recuperation. I love the autumn s well, with its rich colours and crisp mornings. I wish you lots of positivity and warmth 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Carrie Rubin says:

    What I read and watch does seem to affect my feelings. That’s one of the reasons I try to take a break from the news on weekends, though I don’t always succeed. I feel like I just need to avoid all the horrors for a day or two. And then I feel guilty because there are so many people in the world who don’t have that option. So then I flick on the news or grab a paper to get caught up again. And round and round I go…

    Liked by 2 people

  26. We have a choice in what to read, we have none in what goes on in the world around us. I find it hard to not be affected, and have to distract myself from the news at times, just to catch my breath. I agree with the darkness that can come with the seasons. Autumn is my favorite in so many ways, I don’t appreciate the diminishing daylight, though. Lovely words and thoughts here, Diana. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  27. C.E.Robinson says:

    Very thought-provoking words! How the seasons, life, and other writings influence us. I did just comment to another blogger friend how moods and our writings change with the seasons. Important to give your mind a rest at time to rejuvenate and come up with new ideas. Believe this to be true at any interlude. Chryssa

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s interesting how often we have similar thoughts and conversations as if there’s a pervasive shift in the air. My mood definitely affects my characters’ moods. I’m looking forward to a little bright reading to kick off my coming hibernation – a time of intense creation that I love. Thanks for reading, Chryssa. Happy Autumn!

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Annika Perry says:

    Firstly, what a beautiful and touching accolade to fellow bloggers and so true. I often thought the same but not in such poetic words. Feelings are a blessing and a bane as regards writing for me, often pushing a story to that deeper emotional level. However if my mood is particularly low I cannot write. Reading this I wonder what would happen if I pushed myself on those days – what words would appear on paper (screen). Thank you for this lovely thought provoking post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wrote The Bone Wall during one of those dark periods. It’s grim (for me). I don’t think I’ll go there again. But I do like digging deep and the way raw emotion shapes my stories. Thanks, Annika for the visit and kind words 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Erik says:

      Annika, if you do try to write in he lows, don’t evaluate. Just write. Like a skilled painter deciding to use his/her hands on a canvas that will be thrown in a fire afterward. Plan to destroy it. Then you will write freely. What you actually do with it afterward will remain to be seen.

      Liked by 2 people

  29. Heartafire says:

    This is so beautiful , I can’t do it justice with words. Thank you for the loveliness!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Nurse Kelly says:

    Such a beautiful post – you inspire me so much. Will look forward to the quotes 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  31. orangepondconnects says:

    Lovely post. My mood tends to darken around this time of year, even though I do love the seasons of autumn and winter! (Though winter does tend to drag where I live 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

  32. philipparees says:

    I echo this in every way, particularly ‘I am what I read’ and lately have felt I was disappointing others who perhaps hoped I would read what I couldn’t! When one is emotionally febrile reading the wrong material (wrong for the time) can be seriously debilitating. But there does seem to be a prevalent withdrawal or even despair from so many writers- and I am one of them. The insanity of what surrounds us makes resolve to write just more weighted with inconsequence! Add to that the unlikeliness of getting found at all and it starts to look absurd. Yet what is left?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hear you, Philippa. That’s why I really need to read something uplifting. I want to put positive energy out there. To my core, I believe that our thoughts, beliefs and emotions are tangible forces with the power to shift consciousness. I also need to turn off the TV for a while. The US presidential election is 100% depressing.

      Liked by 2 people

  33. Well said, D. Beautiful prose as well. Love autumn, not so much winter, then can’t wait for spring!

    Liked by 2 people

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