Thursday, May 28, 2015

The plan

I fully realize that I started this blog without really knowing what I wanted to do with it.

I've been blogging elsewhere for over three years now, and, in most basic terms, I can sum up my other blog's content in two words. Baseball cards.

Things are a little different here. Yes, literature. Literature. Literature. Literature. But what exactly about literature? Reading, writing, reviewing, analyzing, what?

For now, I'll do my best to suss out exactly what I'm trying to do with this little blog. I cannot guarantee all of this will make sense, mind you.

1) Discussing books and the general appreciation for reading.

Reading was my first love in literature. I've stuck my nose in a book for about 360 of the past 365 days in the last year, but that's just a rough estimate. I've always been somewhat of a reader, but most of what I dabbled in during my high school and early college years were non-fiction works about music or baseball. I discovered a ton of great material during that time (as well as my ability to spout off random baseball facts at will), but I virtually ignored the seemingly infinite amount of fiction out there. While I know it's a hopeless task, I've decided to devote my life to catching up on what I missed, and I'm not looking back.

I am, however, a fairly slow-paced reader by nature, so don't be alarmed if you see the same book on the "What I'm Reading Now" tab for a long period of time. Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for the crate full of unread books sitting next to me right now.

2) Reviewing books/short stories I've read/am reading.

Between the ions it takes me to finish the books I'm currently reading, I guess part of what I hope to do here is discuss some of the works I've already thumbed through. Since I'm relatively new to this whole literature thing, I apologize if some of the novels I bring up have already been analyzed to death. Hey, part of the fun of this whole business is talking about what we read, right? That's why I started this blog, after all.

3) The writing process.

Reading may have been my first love, but writing has won my heart over the past year. I've penned a few short stories and even tried my hand at starting the process of writing a novel. Writing and reading go hand in hand for me these days, and I look forward to discussing the general successes and failures I've had as a writer.

4) Lists.

High Fidelity remains one of my all-time favorite books/movies. While I can list off a number of different reasons for that, I'll keep it kind of basic by saying that I can relate to Rob Gordon (movie)/Fleming (book) for the sheer fact that he, well...makes a lot of lists. He attaches himself to his Top Five countdowns. I'm a big list advocate, and you'll probably be seeing a lot of them on this blog.

Heck, this entire post was one big list, now that I look at it.

That didn't take long. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It began as a mistake

I used to say that music and baseball were my two true passions in life.

It's true. Music and baseball have been a part of me for...well, forever, it seems. Music has been ingrained in me since the beginning, and my other blog should tell you everything you need to know about the respect and love I have for our National Pastime.

I always thought I'd go on forever with those two passions, and I didn't see any problem with that. As long as I had my music and my baseball, I'd be set.

That is, until I enrolled in an English course two years ago, almost completely by accident.

I had a different major at the time and was looking to fill a gap in my schedule. I was at nine credit hours at the time, poring through the class listings to boost it up to twelve. I needed twelve credit hours to be a full-time student and only full-time students received free CTA passes and I needed that pass because who has money for a car these days?

By sheer luck, I happened upon a class that fit perfectly within my schedule. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 12:00-12:50 PM. 

It was called The World of Fiction.

I figured it'd be easy enough. Read some stories, write a few papers, easy A. Simple. No threat to what I thought were my "real" classes at the time. Perfect.

A few things became painfully obvious during the first couple weeks of that course. 1) It wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be. These papers were hard. 2) Despite what I'd learned in high school, not everything can be reduced to a "theme."

3) I was actually enjoying myself.

Sure, it was fun. Innocent fun. I was satisfied with the fifty-minute window of class time every other weekday. Never in those first few weeks did I think this class would be anything more than that.

I still remember the exact moment it became more than that. We were sent home one day with a new assignment, as usual. Read a story called "A&P." The author's name sounded vaguely familiar. 

John Updike.

I read it and instantly wondered what I'd been doing with the past two months of the semester. And first three years of college. And the first twenty-one, virtually not-fiction-reading years of my life.

It's still hard for me to describe exactly why that particular story resonated so much, but I know that the chain of events that have occurred in my life over the last two years all started with John Updike. (This blog takes its name from a line in the story.)

I know it may sound corny or overly dramatic, but I think most literature fanatics do honestly have that one particular piece that changed them. The work that started them on the path to piles of unread books in their home, the piles of books that seem never-ending. The hopeless love affair with literature. 

For me, that was "A&P."

"A&P" convinced me that there was plenty of room for a third passion in my life.

"A&P" inspired me to become an English major.

"A&P" set me on the path to all this.

Trying to wrap my head around the this is what I'm hoping to do with this blog. 

Looking back, I guess I have that bus pass to thank for this.