Some of my favorite memories are sitting in the rocking chair with two or three children piled on my lap as we read from a favorite story book. My kids loved looking at the pictures as they heard about llamas looking for their mamas, or what to do if a mouse wants something. We would laugh, or exclaim with wonder as we shared this experience.
All of my daughters grew up with a love of books. They often sleep with books beside their beds or in bed with them. They enjoy the experience of visiting new lands, learning about an historical event, or seeing something through someone elseâ€™s eyes. We often delight in the same stories, and can talk for hours about characters and plots.
When I read this week about a school in Massachusetts that decided to expunge their library of all hardcopy books, I couldnâ€™t help but feel sad and angry. They replaced the books with online versions and computer access, along with many amenities that might appeal to a younger generation. Their excuse had to do with offering their students the opportunity to search through many more books than traditional shelves would hold.
While e-books have their place, and Iâ€™m not opposed to them, I myself have trouble reading on the computer. I like to curl up in a comfy chair, or relax on the floor as I read. Thatâ€™s harder to do when your book is an e-book. I like having a book to hold in my hand. My daughters and I enjoy going to the library and perusing the shelves so we can find a new series, or a new author that we want to read, something that is more difficult to do online. I canâ€™t imagine those early years with my children if we only had an e-reader. How would we have snuggled up? I just canâ€™t picture that.
Sweat beaded on my brow as I lifted a hand to test the flow from the air duct. No question. Our evaporative cooler was on the fritz. Not only that, but my husband, who usually did all the upkeep, had been working long hours and wouldnâ€™t be home until after dark. That meant I would have to try to the repairs. I could see disaster looming.
I called my husband with the wild hope that my sorry story would bring out compassion in his superiors and he would be allowed to come home early. That didnâ€™t happen. Instead, my sweet man told me exactly what to do. I hung up the phone, knowing we were in big trouble.
After a trip to the hardware store, I fumbled around for the necessary tools and got to work, determined to get the temporary fix in place without tragedy. Everything went more or less fine until it came to climbing the ladder to the roofâ€¦in the almost one hundred degree heatâ€¦with my fear of heights. After a quick pep talk to self I went up, only to discover that gloves were essential. Why didnâ€™t I know that?
Despite several false starts, numerous trips up and down the ladder on shaky legs, and leaks that had to be fixed, I did manage to get the temporary fix in place. The cool air blowing on my heated face was all the thanks I needed. My appreciation for my husband, who does these jobs without whining, blossomed.
I learned a lesson from this that I thought applied in many areas, but especially in my writing. Had I tried to muddle through on my own that cooler would never have been repaired. We would have been sweltering for days without my husbandâ€™s knowledgeable input. The same goes with writing. I have to be ready to listen to experts in many areas and willing to apply their advice, even when itâ€™s hard to do. Editors and other writerâ€™s have many suggestions that are gleaned from years of experience and will benefit me if I listen.
Although I prefer to stay within my comfort zone and not climb a ladder to the roof, I can get a different perspective if Iâ€™m willing to stretch. Up on that roof, the view stretched out a long ways while my usual vista in the house is very limited. I also learned appreciation for something someone else does. As writerâ€™s we must be ready to get out of our comfort zone in order to add depth and reality to our writing.
So, I challenge you to step out the next time you have the opportunity and try something newâ€”even if the scent of disaster is in the air. You never know what treasures youâ€™ll glean for your writing from that breath of cool air.