Two days ago, a box of books arrived from Amazon. Not just any books. Copies of some of my favorite books. I like beginning summer by rereading the things that I love the most. It’s almost like meditation for me–the act of revisiting passages I’ve read a thousand times while sitting in the sun or on the sand or out in the back yard while my daughters’ laughter provides background music.
Last week, when I went to the shelf to find some of my favorite titles, I noticed that many were missing. This is a good thing. It means I’ve given them to other people who might enjoy them just as much. I know that several of my books will be traveling across the country this summer. I know that others will be keeping friends company as they sit near their own children and read and dream and plan. It’s that time of year. I hope that every teacher I know finds some time for leisure reading over the next couple of months.
Yesterday, I cracked open Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott again. It is a perennial favorite of mine, and just this morning, passages came rushing back to me as I chatted with a friend who is planning to self-publish a book of poems this summer. He could submit them to an agent or a publishing house or a journal, I suppose. But he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t need to. Publishing in that way isn’t what he’s about. It isn’t what his work is about either, and he recognizes this. There is something incredibly healthy about that, I think. There is much to celebrate in all of the new opportunities that are out there for writers like him. I think that writers like Lamott might agree, too.
“I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do–the actual act of writing–turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be in its own reward.”