Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started dipping my toes back into the pool of writing fiction. I’m finally developing a story idea into a real book after more than a year of “absent creativity”—and at last, I had a revelation: my creativity hadn’t really been gone; it had merely been asleep, recharging.
When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a novelist. I would sit in my room at my desk for hours, plotting, writing, editing. The “life of a writer” consumed me. This was all I ever wanted: for it to be me, my characters, and my world. And of course, one day, a best-selling novel. But things didn’t quite work out that way.
If you’re a writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month), where authors sprint to fifty-thousand words in just thirty days. If you’re not a writer, you’re probably wondering what possessed me to do something so stupid.
NaNoWriMo usually takes place in November, but halfway through April, I decided that I needed to write a novel now. I was tired of waiting for inspiration to strike from somewhere in the great beyond, so at the beginning of May, I did something I haven’t done in years: I just sat down and started writing.
I haven’t done a book review in awhile, but Salt to the Sea deserves one. What follows will be spoiler-free, so fear not, friends, and read on.
I’ve talked several times on here about why reading is a great pastime, and why you should read more books. But if you only read one book this summer, it should be this one. And should you survive the journey, there are always other books to continue on with.
In this culture, we’re okay with living small. We don’t like risks—especially if those risks may end up costing or hurting us. It’s scary to step out too far, so we rarely do. Living small is comfortable.
It’s difficult to break out of the mediocrity of small living: the comfort zone. Yet deep down, we long for more. For adventure. We thirst for a bigger purpose, and so we turn to stories.
“Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction.” That’s how author David L. Ulin put it, and I quite agree. In our culture, distractions hold a tyrannical reign, and unless we learn to resist them, they will devour our time.
There’s something special about reading—something you can’t achieve by watching a movie or listening to an audiobook. Reading a magic all its own. It draws your mind to focus; challenges your imagination to spin into gear. If you aren’t making time to read, you’re missing a lot of extraordinary benefits.
“What are you going to do?”
If you’re a college student, that question is probably as familiar to you as the air you breathe. Even if you’re still in high school, you’ve likely heard the same thing. What direction are you going to take your life?
Stephen King said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” And you know—it’s true. There’s nothing quite like slipping under a warm blanket and losing yourself in a forest of pages; nothing like settling in and inhaling the faint musty smell of timeless thought.
All too often, though, the magic of reading is pushed aside. We get caught up in all sorts of other things, and instead of making time to open a book, we make excuses. Mary McLeod Bethune said that “The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read”, and I wonder if perhaps—by neglecting books, we may be closing that door.