Like so many other nerdy, disaffected young people of that time, I dreamed of becoming an ‘artist’, i.e., somebody whose adult job was original and creative instead of tedious and dronelike.
That sometime human beings have to just sit in once place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is a such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness … That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be. That God - unless you’re Charlton Heston, or unhinged, or both - speaks and acts entirely through the vehicle of human beings, if there is a God. That God might regard the issue of whether you believe there’s a God or not as fairly low on his/her/its list of things s/he/it’s interested in re you.
I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.
This is the attitude you have to have as a writer. If you are writing merely to get published you’ll simply churn out what can be published and it will have no soul. If you write because you know you have to just to keep your passion and sanity alive, then your work will thrive.
Per this request - injusticeworth said: any chance that you might talk about one or two of them? er, if you have the time and interest, of course; always intrigued by these stories - I am going to to explain (briefly) how a couple of these books actually changed me …
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. After I had read this book in high school (back in early 80s), I was convinced I wanted to be a writer. I thought if I could write 1% as well as Samuel R. Delany, I would be a sufficient writer. After I read the first line of the book: “to wound the autumnal city,”—yes, it began with a lower case “t”—I paused for a long time trying to understand what he meant, and realized he began this work with a lower case and it was published that way. He had control over what he wrote. This was a major revelation for me at that age since my teachers pretty much had control over everything I wrote, and often how I wrote it. Shortly after reading this book I began writing. To this day I still love to write thanks to Samuel R. Delany.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I was working at one of the largest financial institutions in the world when I read this. I was making a crap ton of money but I was miserable. I hated life, I hated my job, I hated my existence. I honestly thought I had no way out of my current situation. Then, after reading this book, the next day I walked into my office building, went directly to my supervisor and gave him my immediate resignation. These very words from that book gave me the courage to do that—
”So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy.”
Doing this scared the shit out of me. But in the many years since, I am so glad that book gave me the courage to do that.
[I don’t typically do memes but this one looked too good to pass up]
Hi there! I tagged you in a book tag. — journaling-junkie
Rules: Answer 10 books that have changed you … [Mine are in no particular order]
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
2. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
5. On Writing by Stephen King
6. The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard
7. What St. Paul Really Said by N.T. Wright
8. Traveling Music by Neil Peart
9. The Snake-Lover’s Diary by Barbara Brenner
10. The Bible
Note: This list is not merely a list of favorite books. In fact some of these books are not my favorites. I did exactly what the meme asked - list 10 books that changed me. In one sense or another the above 10 books have changed me. Some have caused me to change directions in life, some have made me rethink my jobs/career path, one of those books made me want to write (probably not one you might think). In fact, the stories about how these books have changed me are almost as interesting as the books themselves.