My February reading project isn't working. It's not that three books is too much, or that I've chosen the wrong books. It's just that the scope of my project isn't sitting well. I feel restless. Maybe it is the caged animal syndrome, but the truth is that I don't really want to go anywhere. I want to stay inside and read. But I want to read all the books leaning dangerously on my nightstand, not just the three I designated for this week.
I've been thinking about beginnings; introductions- both in writing and in life. I struggle with how to begin my stories and I wonder if this is because I'm not always good at real life beginnings? I've been considering my own social habits when I arrive at parties, or meet up with acquaintances at the grocery store. Am I preoccupied by my own feelings instead of considering the person across from me? Is she warm and glad to see me? Does she care that I'm once again driving carpool in pajamas and slippers, or that my hair is an uncombed masterpiece? Is this friendly or phony?
Sometimes it's so hard to be real, both in person and on paper.
But what I've concluded is that in either situation it is better to stop worrying about tweakers and fabulous flannel p.j.'s and focus more on becoming that warm, sincere person. I can't be a feeling writer or a meaningful friend without paying closer attention to how the other person is feeling. I have wonderful examples of friends who do this really, really well, who pour themselves into whatever conversation they are having and build the other person in the process. As for examples on paper, I'm refining my search. I'm not reading three books this week. I'm reading the first three chapters of as many books as I can. This is my February project. To keep in mind that how we first present ourselves, or I should say how we first receive others, can make all the difference.