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Controlled Creativity


I always considered myself a bookworm.

I used to bring a book everywhere, reading every chance I had (such as in the car). I lived in the world of fiction, breathing impossibilities and oblivious to what was around me. I loved the worlds outside of my own.

I have also always been very extroverted; so, many people didn't actually see me reading. But it was still obvious to all that I loved books because of how much I spoke about them and how I always had some book to recommend. I'd ask people questions (get to know them) and then I'd know just what sort of books they'd like and should be reading.

Some of the first books I remember reading are all the old Nancy Drew books (my dad gave me most of his old copies, still treasure books of mine) and a small book called Caterpillar Green. This book is still special to me, and now as I try to learn German I have bought a German translation.


But as time passed I did not want books to control me. They were wonderful—a beautiful part of my life. But they were not what made me me. Nor were they all I liked … at times I felt books were taking over my life. And so for a while, I tried to juggle my many interests with reading.

That didn't always work so well. Especially in my many tries of trying to read the Bible completely through.

I finally realized what I had to do.

Stop reading.

It was kinda hard to come to this decision. But once I did I had absolutely no temptations to back out of this. I was eleven years old when I decided to stop reading novels until I had read my Bible completely through, beginning to end. I allowed myself to read magazine stories (I devoured a lot of Highlights and American Girl magazines!) and some school readers full of short stories. But that was all.

I was over thirteen when I finally finished reading my Bible.

I can't quite explain that day when I finished.
Complete joy—satisfaction at having read all of the Bible and keeping at my resolution.

So many people had told me I was silly when I refused to read a book. Some even told me to give up—I was so happy I had not.

I had built up a wonderful daily habit that I still carry out to this day (to read my Bible every day) plus I had taught myself the beginning of self-control over something I loved.
The day I finished the last bit of Revelation isn't exactly proof of this, though…

Over those years of not reading, I still bought books (mostly from thrift stores). So, I had a huge pile of books I had never read. I also had several Boxcar Children books my grandma had given to me for when I started reading again. Hungry for stories, that day I finished reading my Bible I read over thirty books—mostly Boxcar Children and American Girl books. That sounds like a lot of books—but somehow I did it.

My brain was a little exhausted at the end of that day.

But I was so happy to read again.

I continued reading my Bible every day. I continued buying books. I read books again. I developed other skills and hobbies such as embroidering and knitting and writing. Extroversion grew ... I loved people—and learned how to discuss other things besides books, learning how to ask a few questions of an individual until I stumbled on a subject we both could speak of passionately. I became very entrepreneurial (business minded) turning my loves into money-making schemes.

All of my pre-teen and early teen years affected me greatly. But my path of reading I feel impacted EVERYTHING tremendously.

Reading is amazing.

But it is a tool—not something that should master us.

Even after I started reading I would have struggles where I'd rather just devour my novels than do anything else.

Non-fiction was boring.
Writing was hard.
Sometimes I'd rather just read all day than do anything truly productive.

But I learned how to start a novel, and then when I got to an interesting part that just couldn't be left I'd leave it for a week or more at a time and not even care just to show myself the book didn't matter that much.

I stumbled across non-fiction subjects that enthralled me. I even found a love for encyclopedias. I discovered biographies were actually interesting—I read a 500-page biography on C. S. Lewis and 1000 page biography on Adolf Hitler.

My love for books never died, but as I learned to prioritize and work toward my dreams I realized I was reading less and less and less … Until I wasn't reading at all. I still told people I loved books. But I was no longer reading them—and when I did read it was something educational or informative.

Kinda sad for a creative and imaginative mind …

Except I learned to see the creativity and wonderful imagination in nonfiction …

For two years I was so busy with life I barely read. But then I realized that I, as a writer, needed to read. It was a weird realization to have. After years of trying to control my reading intake I was now trying to see, “How can I fit reading novels into my schedule?”




It was hard at first. Actually still is at times. My life is full of work, friends, projects, and writing. When can I read? I already sacrifice enough sleep.

But like anything, I find you make time for what is important. And there is always something to move out of your life.

One funny thing—I had grown accustomed to not reading that it was actually hard to start reading again. Sometimes I had to push myself to just read a chapter even if it's really interesting. There are so many things I would/should rather do—or sleep.

But I remind myself as a writer I need to feed my mind and imagination. I need words just as much as I need air and food and water.

And, so, I have taught myself to love reading once more.

And I feel as if I own my books rather than they owning me. I can read and enjoy what another author has done and allow the book to affect my reality positively instead of wishing my reality to be all in my fiction books.

My fiction books live in my world, rather than me living in my books.

Reading is a journey—we can let it change us or control us. Are we becoming better people through our books, or are we blending into another world forgetting that we live in the most splendid universe created by the best Author ever, named Yahweh?

I'm still on my journey. It's constant and continuous. But it's beautiful.

What does your journey look like, Reader?

*This was originally posted on Kara Swanson's blog as a guest post. 




Comments

  1. Highlights, American Girl books and magazines, and Boxcar Children were my LIFE.

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    1. good things to grow up on ;d I remember submitting to Highlights. Once was a publication dream ;D

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  2. I challenged myself to read the whole Bible too, simply because if I could devour all these other long books, why couldn't I. It's the most important one to read. I was super happy when I finished too, and now I read it as often as I can.

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    1. It's strange how we readers will read anything and everything easily, but then the Bible is hard. I'm so glad to hear that!

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  3. I did go through a "there's nothing clean to read" slumo followed by a "I have no time to read" reading slump a few years back. Eventually decided that I would need to make time and use my little bits of time if I wanted to read.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you got past those two slumps, especially the first one! That's such a huge battle many never conquer. To the bits of time!!

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  4. I love this! I admire your decision to not read anything until you'd read the Bible through. I struggle with making Bible/prayer time have priority over other things. And it's so easy to think of them as just a part of your day rather than a lifestyle.

    Similar to what Skye said above me, I've also thought of how I tend to enjoy reading fiction more than I enjoy reading the Bible. And that bugs me, because I know God's Word is the most fascinating, powerful thing I could read. It's something I pray about and am working on in myself. I definitely don't value it as much as I should sometimes.

    I, too, try to keep myself from becoming so absorbed in fiction that I don't appreciate the world I do live in. Narnia and Middle Earth are fantastic, but they're not what God created for us. For me the same goes for characters, too. I get so attached to fictional characters and inspired by them and aspire to be like them and then I check myself and think... when was the last time I dwelt on Jesus and aspired to be like Him?

    Great post, Keturah. :)

    theonesthatreallymatter.blogspot.com

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    1. Though this is a testimony of sorts, it convicts even I. For I too have come to another place of slacking.

      I'm so glad you relate to the Narnia vs Earth conundrum ;)

      And to compare ourselves to characters, but not so often to Jesus!? That's powerful, Emily!!!

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  5. Wow, Keturah, this is so good. I had a moment this spring where I was like, "Wait, I'm an English major and the written word is how I relate to the world...and I've read The Great Gatsby so many times I practically have it memorized...but I haven't even read the Bible all the way through?" So now I'm reading it consistently.

    I love everything you say about discipline. It certainly applies to the things we love in life--not just the bad habits, but in a particular way to the things that are good but simply not the HIGHEST Good. :)

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    1. Props to you for choosing to read scripture consistently!

      And yes! Discipline of those that are not even of the highest good!

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  6. Right now I'm not reading a lot. I've been trying to read the Bible through, and I just don't have the time to read anything else a lot. I've been writing some which is good.
    Great post!

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

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    1. I do find that it's hard to make time for both writing and reading. Busy lives often make us choose sparingly ;)

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  7. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post! When I was little, all I did was read. Seriously, I'd spend whole days nothing doing nothing but reading. I always had excuses like, "It's what I like to do! It makes me happy!" Part of that was true, but pure happiness doesn't come from reading. As I've gotten older I've had less time for reading and it has made me realize what a treat it is. I now have other hobbies besides reading, and I'm glad that I do.

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    1. So many bookworms start out just as you described. But few learn the art of discipline and of having diverse desires. Love that you have! And it is such a treat. Something I really want: the time to go sit under a tree and read all day!

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  8. Wow! That is wildly impressive to not read for two years and to commit to reading all the way through your Bible at only eleven. Last year I committed to reading all the way through the Bible. It's been slow going, but I just got to 1 Kings and I'm so glad I made that commitment to myself to read a little every day until I get all the way through to Revelations. :)

    www.melodypersonetteauthor.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm so glad I did it, too. And that's amazing! It'll be one of your favorite achievements ever when you're finished.

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