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As I work on getting my article past the stream of consciousness stage, I’m revisiting a troubling verity from my English major days.  I am an extremely lazy and reluctant editor.  Unless I’m forced to make changes, usually I go with the first draft and call it good enough.  Maybe this is why I never pursued a career in creative writing, editing, or journalism, even though those seemed like the logical outlets for my love of written language.  I just can’t imagine spending 8 hours a day contemplating minute tweakings of a manuscript.  I also hate to trim anything – it seems like such a waste (sort of like throwing away perfectly good food).

In the interest of total disclosure, the same laziness infects this blog…rarely do I go back and restructure my ideas before posting.  I’m sure this sometimes results in confusing, random, or simply trivial posts.  But at the same time, the whole idea behind blogging is to get ideas in print in a somewhat informal and collaborative manner, from which more structured thinking and writing can develop.  So maybe I’m on the right track after all.

As it is the holiday season and I’m still feeling a bit lethargic and mind-numbed from yesterday’s culinary excesses, I thought I would indulge in a short laundry list of what I am thankful for this year.

1) Being a librarian.  Now I have an acronym to put on my business cards (if my business cards didn’t at the moment read Registrar.  But at least I finally have business cards, which I’m thankful for in and of itself).

2) The chance to go hiking every day, including hiking up to 9,000 on Thanksgiving to get this amazing view. 

Luckily I made it before the snow started to fly. Though it did make the gallery’s sculpture garden quite lovely this morning.

3) Old friends and new friends – particulary my good friend Donk calling to wish me a happy half birthday.

4) A job I love and learn from every day.

5) Living in a city with a film festival, which means:

a) Volunteering for the film festival

b) Getting free tickets

c) Going to parties with Alan Cummings.

6) Friday gallery openings and farolitos (Christmas lights) on Canyon Road.

7) Family. Natch.

That’s enough to keep me grounded for now…

I have my bibliophile (ok, bibliomaniac) friend Melisa to thank for keeping me on my literary toes.  She recently started an online book discussion group covering the classics of world literature, and belongs to several other online book groups.  She makes me feel like I should be reading much more, or at least broadening my horizons more.

After finding out we both just read Anna Karenina, Melisa persuaded me to get involved in the Russian Reading Challenge 2008.  According to the blog that’s been set up by Sharon from Ex Libris, this is a “12 month reading challenge of all things Russian – novels, short stories, biographies, history, poetry – by Russian authors or by authors about Russia.” So suddenly I find myself compelled to actually read War and Peace

While not every reader will be interested in this particular challenge, I do like the idea from the perspective of promoting literacy. It’s the perfect opportunity to form a local group of readers and get together to talk about the books as well as get the opinions of an online community. When I’m answerable to a discussion group, I’m more likely to stay on task. I suppose that’s the idea behind such things as the One Book, One City programs and other such public library initiatives. Whatever creative new approaches can be found to increase literacy, I’m all for it.

I went to the first meeting of my book club the other day (to discuss Nick Flynn’s memoir “Another Bullshit Night In Suck City”).  Like most book clubs, it is partly an opportunity to meet with like-minded literature afficienados over plates of dessert.

 But it did give me a glowy feeling to hear the oohs and aahs when I introduced myself as a librarian.  Apparently librarianship is a common “what I want to be when I grow up” fantasy for book club types.  So I guess I have a certain cache.

It got me wondering why my friendly local public library doesn’t seem to do much programming in this vein.  How hard is it to host a book discussion group in the library? All you really need is to offer up the space.  A librarian moderator would be great, but it’s not essential.  Just to advertise to the community that such an opportunity exists…I found this book club via, and apparently it has filled a major vacuum in the community.  All of these women (yes, we’re all women – that’s a whole other issue) are intelligent, engaged, creative, and simply looking for interesting literary discussion.  And an excuse to eat chocolate cake.  Isn’t that a niche that the library should try to fill?

I’ve been feeling all the twinges of withdrawal lately – not for any of the fun vices, but (rather pathetically) the classroom experience.  Even my online MLIS program provided a structured intellectual community with which to bounce off ideas and motivate me to think outside my own personal box of knowledge and understanding.  Something about the structured community of a classroom environment fills a psychological need.  I’m addicted to school.

When I’m on my own, even though my research objectives are liberated, I tend to get complacent.  I’m not great at intellectual motivation. 

I’ve been trying to feed my addiction through other sources.  Luckily, lately it seems that I have met a lot of like-minded people to bounce off ideas and keep me reading.  I’m revisiting my love of classic literature now that I actually have some time to read seriously.  I just finished Anna Karenina and joined a local book club.  It’s been good for me to start taking notes again on what I’m reading, to get my thoughts in order.  I’m starting to think in terms of metaphor and narrative structure. 

Even casual classrooms like lectures, workshops, and community college training courses seem to fill this need, and luckily many of these things are free or nominally priced.  This month I’m looking forward to a class on traditional Spanish tin art.

In any case, it’s cheaper than therapy!

November 2007