Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Libraries - National Blog Posting Month NaBloPoMo #1

Good writing – or is it good reading? – inspires me to write. It may come out of the blue – reading the perfect prose, a poignant poem, a witty quote. Last week, a friend composed the press release for our sanshin group’s upcoming recital – and I was struck. I sat back and as I kept reading, I was mentally nodding, yes, yes, YES!

I wrote to him to share my appreciation of his words and he shared back that he has been working steadily on his craft, producing.... leaving me with a longing to devote time to my buried words, too. In a PS, he suggested possible projects together – methinks I'm nowhere ready for that... yet! This writing muscle o' mine is quite tight and hard, kind of like my hamstrings… I want to manipulate, massage and mold this muscle until it is pliable, flowing and tender.

I thought I would begin in the same way one goes about creating habits – by doing something consistently and frequently. Another blogging friend does a blog post daily for the month of November when it is considered the actual National Blog Posting Month – or NaBloPoMo. The website dedicated to NaBloPoMo has since expanded recognizing that people want to participate year round. It's February, and I begin.
So here I am, Blog Post #1.

Discipline is just the same concept of a muscle needing to be trained and worked on, to become stronger and more effective…. Getting started (inertia) is probably the hardest. Once momentum is built, like physics, much easier to stay in motion, n'est-ce pas? So, getting the ball rolling…

* * *

NaBloPoMo actually assigns themes every month for those that wish to adhere to that. I think I’ll probably just free-flow – just to get going. Unless the suggested “prompt” inspires… which today it does!

Today's prompt: Who's your favorite character from a book, play, film, or other work of art?

As my mind starts to flip through a catalogue of things I have seen, read, heard, felt…. I do have my favorites. From childhood, I can feel Meg of A Wrinkle in Time poking her head up. Judy Blume’s memorable characters are embedded in my memory, too – Davey of Tiger Eyes and Winnie of Iggie’s House among others. Ponyboy from The Outsiders and Lieutenant Colonel Slade of Scent of a Woman. There’s Eponine from Les Miserables and Jean Valjean, too. I liked Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye…. And yes, I was infatuated with Scully of The X-Files. Not obscure characters, most folks will know of them. There’s even a whole host of women in love who are all blurred from silly Harlequin Romance novels, too, I’m a little embarrassed, but honest enough to admit.

And yet, more than exploring each of these characters and what they meant/represented to me, I connect the privilege of consuming these characters through: 1) the writers that give birth to them; as well as, 2) the places one can go to do this consuming. Bravo to the men and women who put pen to paper (archaic, I know) and nurture unforgettable characters that touch us in so many ways. And to places like the local bookstore and particularly the library for being a haven and home to these wonderful creations.

On my birthday (not related in any way), Mr. Phillip Pullman, best-selling author in his own right, delivered an impassioned speech protesting the closure of 20 libraries in his local area. He’s talking about the wonderful world of reading (consuming) and the library and how it nurtures this. I’ve felt that delicious love affair:

And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?”
He goes on to rail against the "greedy ghost of market madness" - condemning the the publishers who choose which writers and works they will publish based on "best-selling" lists, as well as the supposed stewards who want to cut funding from these societal treasures. It defends the library and the librarians for the service they provide, for the nurturing of citizens, both intellectually, pratically and emotionally.

When the idea of volunteers running libraries was offered as a solution to these cuts, he makes a sharp point that perhaps "they" do not really know or appreciate what a librarian's work entails... I have often thought about studying the library sciences. Though the budgets for these magnificent institutions are constantly in danger of being cut (or actually are being cut), I still harbor a secret desire to become a librarian. They are so cool!

I imagine having all of the books and resources at one's fingertips. If not to devour the material myself, to catalogue and to assist others in their quest for Data and Knowledge. Of course, chances are I might be like the person who is trying to organize and reads every single scrap piece of paper and not actually getting anywhere with the task at hand. But still!

I recall my favorite librarian at the Gardena public library (that has been renamed the Mayme Dear Library since) who also was my mentor. Rows of books still thrill me – just as the local bookstore does, too. I love books!

I love libraries. I spent everyday after attending Denker Avenue Elementary at the Mayme Dear Library where I hung out with friends and read and studied until my mother could pick me up after her work at 5pm. I was not a latchkey kid. I was a latch-library kid. And that is where I met many of my unforgettable characters. Ones who not only taught me compassion and helped me understand what a viewpoint was and the validity of each. Characters that made me realize that every person dwells within me.

Long live the Library!

To read the speech in its entirety, click here.

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