currently: listening to 'You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are' by Jon Foreman
When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. Other kids wanted to be sports stars, or singers, or horse riders, or vets, but for me, I had the desire for a nerdish and unglamorous lifestyle as an accomplished writer.
The desire to put thoughts into words into sentences into stories, was a skill that many attempted at, but didn't always beautifully succeed with (I included). But to be a writer meant your thoughts into words into sentences into stories became an influential power. The thoughts of a writer are captured in time and then into the imaginations of men.
I grew up with library books, papers, and diaries I filled up to every last page. For years I challenged myself to read Ann M. Martin's entire 'The Baby-Sitters Club' series, then into my teenage-dom I began moving onto more deeper, darker stories. I wanted books that would take away the need for sleep and keep me up until the morning came again. But as I got older, finding books like that seemed harder to do.
I feel now the age of the internet and the accessible screen is probably to blame for this. In fact, it, and the culture around it, IS to blame. Why spend hours investing in stories when the culture now is to consume quickly and fast, getting what we need and moving on to the next. Today's media is about producing "bite-sized content". Short, visual and shareable - because their brief nature is easier to offer time to. More often though, they're not after capturing imaginations of men, but capturing revenue for their pockets.
But of course, I'm no better than the "them" I acknowledge. Time is valued in quantity, rather than quality nowadays, and I'm constantly on the go, attempting to consume what I can with the time I've been given. I probably spend just as much time watching TV shows and YouTube videos online than I do sleeping. And I used to tell my co-worker who loved books, "I haven't read a proper book since I left uni. I just don't have the time".
'I don't have time' must be one of the most overused excuses in the world. People don't "have" time; they're offered time. It's whether or not they choose to take the time they're offered and see the value to invest it in something.
What I'm writing right now probably says something deeper than the relationship between time and a book, but I still raise the question - since when did books stop becoming an invaluable investment of time?
For the first time in a very long time, I've actually finished a book.
Judge me if you will, but I found a copy of 'The Fault in Our Stars' at work that I decided to borrow towards the end of last year. And while previous me would have judged my choice in a book-turned-movie, I feel relieved that it was worthwhile to read. I began reading the first few chapters in January, and hadn't picked it up again until this week, choosing yesterday night (after I had already napped in front of the TV) to finally finish it in the early hours of 2am. I'm glad I pre-slept before reading it because there was no way I would have let my tired body lose to not finishing the story.
(And no, I haven't watched the movie. Yet.)
We always say how powerful a medium like film and video is, but I think a good written story is the stronger medium. I was reminded of this as I got lost in the last few chapters of the book (no spoilers) because the thoughts of Hazel and Augustus were in my imagination. I don't often cry (and less often admit to crying) at things but only two stories in the past two years have made me feel this moved. One was the episode on Glee dedicated to Cory Monteith (because it hurt right in the teenage memories), and the other was this book. And I felt way more reading this book.
If anything, this blog post should be an apology to books and being dumb enough to break a valuable relationship with my library card. I'm constantly investing my time into quick "bite-sized" media that, quite frankly, I don't get any deep return for. A good book though, makes you feel and reflect longer than short consumable media could.
So, books, I'm sorry. But I thank the thoughts of your creators and the sharing of time and imagination. Because your investment in time is my investment in relearning what it is to have a book open your imagination.
And maybe, if you're still reading this blog post, now's a good time to put down the computer and pick up a book again. Anyone can publish something on the internet, but think of the status a book that is published. It's clearly worth someone's time.