This is the introductory section for my February issue of RANews, the newsletter for readers’ advisors I edit for NoveList.

I no longer have any students but I find that I still need to say things, so I have begun to write a blog. My entries have been about teaching for these first few weeks, but I will move on to books, libraries and museums, and then to the unfinished, loose-end stories I need to understand as I strive for that integrated self so essential to a good age. My point in mentioning it here is that I never thought I would need to write personal items on the Web – I think of RA News as professional (even “library scientific”) work — but I have found it to be a wonderful challenge in my new life as a Real Writer. I will never tweet – unless I explore the constraints of the medium like haiku – no! Never! And I will happily let faces other than my own take up space on Facebook. But I do love to write this blog. And as I do, I am beginning to read with more happiness. Perhaps that is where the blog is heading, too: toward stories of my reading life.

Right now, for example, in my reading life I have been sipping at a book by a noted contemporary Irish writer John McGahern, By the Lake. The book jacket calls him the “Irish Chekhov.” I don’t recall why I bought it, but one of my recent “neglected books” lists mentioned it, so I recollected the volume from a dusty shelf and started to read. Here’s the news: nothing happens in this book (so far, and I’m halfway done). That is, people live – yes, by a lake near a village – and they interact, build things, grow things, harvest things, cook and eat things. They gossip, they regret, they visit and drink and talk and depart for home. And they talk and talk some more. But there is neither angst, nor a sudden passing away, nor crisis, nor crime to stir me: it’s a book about what happens when people live and talk to each other.

Perhaps it’s a rare  genre: novels about people at peace with themselves in a landscape, undistorted by striving for more. This reminds me of my mock resolution for the new year, “less striving in 2010,” meaning:  find contentment in yourself wherever you can. And now I am reminded of a quotation from the Dalai Lama a student included in one of the final papers I read last term, as my teaching beacon went out. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”  And so it is.

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One Response to “Blogging”

  1. Annette McMullen Says:

    By the Lake was a lovely book. I read it a few years ago and found it to be enchanting. All those people leading their quiet lives (not of desperation) and our getting to look in on them. It makes one think that the real storytellers are the ones who can get you involved in characters’ lives without anything more than catching what they essentially are (William Trevor being a great practitioner of this kind of writing). It also makes a reader suspicious that the writers of plot-driven novels are using a “bag of tricks” (no matter how enjoyable those tricks might be) in the same way that comedians use “blue” material and movie directors use action to make up for their lack of inventiveness.

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