Writing about reading to write

The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else

I have picked out Don Quixote as the centerpiece for my summer reading. I have been constructing my own summer reading program for years now. My recent life has permitted time to design my front porch to accommodate a summer spent there reading to my heart’s content. In the last few years of I’ve added a mosquito net, a wheeled table, and a small circular fan for hot ass summer afternoons.

During the depths of my Midwest winter I begin to imagine myself out on my porch on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a book, my mind and me. I will chose a book to read that has been calling to me for years. A list of those books includes Moby Dick, Tristam Shandy, Huckelberry Finn, Oscar Wilde’s plays, Hamlet. This year will be Don Quixote which I have already bought and it ready and waiting for the weather to begin to warm up. But this year, something troubling has been happening. I’ve already wondered how I can post about my reading Don Quixote. And when I do, how many likes will it get? How will my SEO program react to it? How do I work Sancho Panza into my meta-description?

A trip to the library

Let me compare my front porch to a library, like the one I grew up going to on Dayton’s near north side. I went there to read books on lots of subjects. At that time in my tween years I loved books on WWII. It was exciting to go to the library. I headed straight for the history section within which lived the WWII books. Sometimes it was hard to chose among the titles. But part of the fun was choosing among the books, and then picking a couple you took an interest in at that moment. There was an element of suspense in those days in doing so without a phone in your hand providing as much information on the book as you could find.

I had to read the cover, back cover blurbs and maybe the table of contents. I had to then trust my instinct, obey my intellectual curiosity, and chose to read the book based on something inside me.

The icing on the cake was that if you had time you were able to read at least some of it then and there, before you had to head home. Once home you could read that whole book that you did not know existed just an hour or two beforehand. By reading it you could learn, discover and grow. As a preteen, I felt a rush, a buzz on the walk home holding the new book, this new world under my arm. That feeling was one of both anticipation and excitement with a dash of something undefinable. It was perhaps the sense, the understanding that I growing my mind and furthering my understanding of the world I lived in.

My old library

Keep your mind shut. No one wants to hear it

But what if I went to my library looking for something I knew was already there? A book or books that someone had told me to go find for some other purpose beside genuinely wanting to read it? Another reason besides satisfying honest intellectual curiosity? You know, that energy that can’t be defined by formula, measured by a scale or held in your hand? That thing, that mental force that got us out of the caves one fine spring day and on the way to indoor plumbing? What if you put other books aside and read a different one because a SEO program told you it was what someone else wanted you to read? Expected you to read, so that you could post about it to get clicks, likes and comments?

And this is what is scaring me about myself. More and more often I have been finding myself basing my choice of what I read and if I can post about it, or how I can post about it.

When reading was for it’s own sake

Give them what they want, to hell with your your own intellectual curiosity. SEO it steering your content towards clicks. Where does the content orginate? My mind. Who is in charge of my mind and all of it’s possible thoughts? Me. Or, it used to be.

It may be me over-reacting a bit, but I want to roam all the stacks in my library again. SEO and Google can piss off. I want to read so I can continue to learn for it’s own sake. I thought that was supposed to be the great thing about the internet, it was supposed to give us unlimited access to the world, not contain and control that access bit by bit. Like I said, I decided last year that it was time to read Don Quixote. I will honor that intention when it finally warms up around here. The book has been calling to me the same way all the books on the summer read lists have: In an undefinable way which I’ll call it the law of intellectual attraction. I am going to read Don Quixote because I want to.

All the said, the point underlying all this is that I like to write fiction. And recently, I have found writing about writing fiction in this blog to be too time consuming and not all that much fun. I have posted weekly for about two and a half years, which is quite commendable considering most blogs die after just a few months. So, I’m going to post less often for the time being. I’m going to ignore as much as I can SEO, SERP and web crawlers. I’m going to read and write and post for the fun of it!

So there. Is this what they call “tilting at windmills?‘ If so, I’m about to find out.


P.S- I’ll let you know if it was.

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