|© Melissa Gaggiano|
It took me a long time to get there on my reading journey. But so it goes, sometimes you got to 'take the long way home' [thank you Supertramp]. I'm realising the whole point of doing the scenic tour through life is that you're more aware of yourself and what you are capable of. By the time you reach your intended destination you are so much more than what you were before.
The likes of Harper Lee, F Scott Fitzgerald, and JD Salinger was required reading in the latter half of high school. This enforced reading was a good thing because it exposed me to worlds and ideas that I might not have thought to explore, if not for the class reading list.
I tried writing my first book. Something sci-fi. It was only a couple of barely there chapters.
Eventually, by my own volition I read other American works, such as John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a book that I would go on to read anew, countless more times. The book was almost the equivalent of that childhood toy that you keep near your bedside as a comfort piece.
I tried writing a play. It had a little something, but there was an essential substance that was missing, because I was incomplete.
For a number of years I had heard the name Hemingway being thrown about like a pop cultural reference of the literary world. 'Okay, okay' I told myself, 'you can't ignore this one'. I had to put Papa Hemingway on my reading list. But it was another two years before that actually happened. See what I mean about the long way home. Finally I read The Sun Also Rises, and I came away with rather mixed feelings about his writing. Of course one must not judge a writer by one book alone. Each book represents a different stage of development for that author.
Another unfinished story later, I have been onto something. For just over a year I have been writing something, on and off. Off and on. For the first time I am writing something that feels near tangible and authentic.
Now I am reading Jack Kerouac, On the Road. Again another writer who's name had been floating around in some pop cultural pool. But, as you can guess, I'm one of those people that take their time joining the party when it comes to reading celebrated authors, and watching award winning shows. In the former when someone says to me 'you should read this, everyone else is' I tend to dig in my heels. In the latter I can say that I start watching shows that have been off the air for a decade. Sadly though the shows that I truly dig tend to be the short lived cult classics [say hello and goodbye in one breath to Firefly, Veronica Mars, Freaks and Geeks]. But I'm digressing just a bit.
Getting back to Jack Kerouac, I am only 30 pages in, but my god, his words are some kind of literary sexy, arousing in me a new line of thinking. Jack saw the world, and he most definitely was one of those who took the long way home.
When I finish reading Kerouac I want to start reading the work of James Franco. Why him, you might ask. I don't have a single line of reasoning. I have read a sample of his work in an online magazine, and now that I'm reading Kerouac, something tells me that Franco is a natural progression for me.
There are many good reasons to read books, even if it takes you a long time to get to it. I am grateful for the opportunity that comes with being able to read. When you get a writer you want to immerse yourself in their world. But there is more to it than simply that. For me there is a fundamental connection between the writer I am becoming and the authors, whose books I read.
And so, I continue to write and I am ever closer to becoming myself through the stories that other people write.