Tag Archives: reading

Where Have All the Papers Gone…

When I was a kid, there were these things called newspapers. They were actually made of paper.

My dad and I used to ride our bikes to the corner store every Sunday and pick up a copy of the Daily Press, and maybe a dozen donuts. When we got home, I would grab the Comics, the Opinion pages, and sometimes the Arts & Events pages, while Pop would read the A section, the Weather, and the Classifieds. The paper was so big, and I was so small, that I would lay on the floor and hold up the paper with both hands and both feet. I both loved and hated the way the newsprint felt on my fingertips.

Years later, when I wrote for the Jackrabbit Journal, our high school’s lofty monthly, I came to love the smell of the paper, and the slippery, black state of my hands after delivering the finished product around campus. The writing was mediocre and the editing was a little sloppy (one of my articles, which happened to be on the subject of teen suicide, accidentally got published in multiple issues and led to my having to endure multiple counseling sessions), but the Paper was the Paper. It was alive, and I loved it. Being able to see and feel and smell the publication I helped create was far more rewarding than simply seeing my little byline. It was ultimately more fulfilling than seeing my writing on a Google search page.

Two days ago the New York Times announced the impending closure of the 137-year-old Boston Globe, only one of many papers to recently succumb to the weak economy. Two months ago the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one of my old favorites, became online-only, and it looks as though many great papers and journals, even a few glossies, are following suit. So, the writers are still around, the publication’s personality still evident, but will the Sunday Paper Experience ever be the same? Will our children grow up wondering why in the world news websites are called “papers?” We will always have the news, but who can help but miss the paper… the real, live, pulp-based, lignin-filled paper?

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Filed under Life, Writing

A Writer by any other name is just… a Reader.

What do you do when you’ve read so much that your brain has become too bogged down, too exhausted to write?

Lately I’ve been reading books. Books for bookclubs, books to entertain preschoolers, books to review before they are released into the big wide world… And then it happens. I sit down at my computer, and I drift. I look at the bookclub forums. I wonder why I’m still called “Contributer,” instead of “Frequent Contributor” or “Enlightened Godess of Plot and Character Interpretation.” I refresh my email. I look at my sister’s photos of Summer Vacation 2007.

The most writing I’ve done at one time lately is to make four posts to one of my online bookclubs in a single afternoon. When I first joined these sites, I marveled at the frequent posters who did not write, apart from their silly games and occassional “I liked it/ I hated it” reviews of contemporary fiction. These people who are so well-read but do not write. I never imagined I’d become one of them.

Yesterday I received my brand new business cards, with my name and title right there at the top: Sarita Li Johnson. Writer. Boldly bisecting the back of the card is the web address of this very blog: thelandlockedsailor.wordpress.com. I proudly inspected my new glossy declarations of identity, but the pride and excitement quickly faded, with the realization that I have not been blogging at The Landlocked Sailor! How can I distribute these cards to the world, only to show them what I do not do? How on earth have I become a Reader Who Does Not Write?

Right here and now I have decided that the 4th of March is not too late a date to make resolutions. From now on, for every literary response I construct, I will create an equally read-worthy piece of my own. How will I measure this? For each subject (not each post) that I respond to in a reader’s forum, I will write on one other subject, of my own devising, on this blog. Sounds doable to me. Who’s with me? Readers of the world, let’s write!

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Filed under Writing