An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

09 May 2007

Books, reading, writing, blogging

This is what the first 58 books in my Library Thing shelf looks like.

It doesn't reflect my entire library, of course. I definitely have more than that. These first 58 were just the ones nearest to me when I began cataloguing my books, and I've never had the opportunity to proceed.

There should have been more than 58 in this first slew of cataloguing. The other books I tried to catalogue didn't match the book cover images that showed up online, so I didn't add them yet. Being the exact person that I am, I wanted the book covers in the catalogue to match my actual book covers. Also, I am a little bothered by the brown generic book cover images. I'm planning to remove them from my catalogue, and just keep trying to add and add and add the books I have, until the online cover images match my own covers. This means that my catalogue will never be really finished, but well, a library is always an ongoing project, so there.

As you can see, I have a thing for books. I not only need to read them because I am a writer, I read them also because I have been brought up on them as a child, creating a habit that would last my whole life. Being a sickly asthmatic underweight young girl in the farm, I didn't do much running around in the paddies and didn't do much hopping about in the mud with the carabaos. I stayed home after school to read. On weekends I was allowed to linger in bed in the mornings and go to sleep late, and I used these times to read, in bed, on the stairs, on the floor, on the couch, beside windows, in the terrace. During summers, I stayed on the swing to read, or up the branches of a low and stout mango tree, where I'd stay for hours until it started to get dark. Reading for me was never a form of punishment or chore, as it was for other children my age. Reading has always been a form of indulgence, a decadence, even, a langorous stretching of time and the body and the imagination, to accommodate the reading of a book, while everyone else moved about hurriedly with the rest of the pragmatic world.

I've always enjoyed reading long, lingering, epic works, just as much as I enjoyed shorter -- and super-short -- works that nevertheless stunned me with their impact, but it is the long works that really get me going. As a fictionist, I feel most at one with myself when writing long works. I have written stories that reach forty pages, which is fifteen pages longer than what is usually published. I have written very short stories as well, but I have more long work, and it's for my longer works that I am remembered. At workshops, almost no one ever tells me to cut a work short. I am most often advised to lengthen a work, add more plot twists, explore more of the character, because the story I have come up with so far is still throbbing with something that begs to be expanded, and that takes time to write as well as read. Perhaps I tend to choose those kind of subjects. Or not. I have not really thought about that yet.

Toni Morrison, as often quoted by Butch Dalisay, once said of a book of hers that she wrote it because she wanted to read it. I've always thought that that was one of the most sensible reasons to write a book, not to mention the most obvious. No writer in history has ever written a book that she hated. If she hated it so much, there's no point in having written it. So in a sense, all writers write for themselves, and then publish for their readers. I as a reader am thus at the mercy of the writers' tastes and judgement, but as I believe no Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature ever has bad taste in literature, it feels more like a privilege than a hindrance.

I myself write in ways and manners that I like best: taking my time, relishing the words, sinking, as it were, into soft cushions, ensconscing myself into a tapestry of words where time can go on and on and on, not staying still at all, while I am the one who stays still. There I take my time, take time into my hands, and render it irrelevant, to weave together a story worthy of the reader's time, so they can stand still long enough to enjoy my story while the rest of the world rushes past. I suppose that is just my sensibility. Just as I need time to take to any new place, any new life, any new thing I am reading, so I give my own readers the chance to settle in, cajoling them, inviting them to sink into the comfort of the long story that I have to tell, believing that they will gain pleasure while reading it, and that at the end of it, they will feel enriched, different somehow, more sensitive, more attuned to the intricacies and nuances of the human heart.

Even as a blogger, I am still that kind of writer. I have very few short entries, and I actually cringe at the idea of embedding something other than words into the page. (The most generous concession I can give is to photographs, and only recently, that.) Sometimes I wonder about my readers, but then again I'm sure they do not have short attention spans themselves, so it's all a pretty comfortable match. Just like my Library Thing cataloguing project, my reading life, and my own career in writing, this blog will take its own sweet time, will linger and meander and explore, partly in defiance of the quick-and-easy concept behind blogging itself, partly as a tribute to the langorousnes with which I view all written works, and partly as a mirror of who I am.

So come, settle, and take your time. Let me tell you stories.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm sorry but this is way out of topic. I read an old blog of yours (re: Defiance), and I just thought you might be able to help answer some of my questions about your drives to Bicolandia. You may reach me at Again, I'm sorry, but I can't seem to find an e-mail address link in your site.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

I love exploring the space permitted in a long story. It's so different from the frenetic sense of the truly short ones. There's time to stretch a bit, extend dialogue, look across the waters... :)

3:50 PM  
Blogger Santosh said...

I am 1st time reader of your blog.Thats amazing to see the passion for the books in your life.
Can you tell me the names of books which you had published?

4:03 AM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Hi, santosh. The details of all my published stories and books are there in the sidebar. :)

Thanks for visiting! :)

8:01 AM  
Blogger gibbs cadiz said...

ey maryanne, sorry off-topic (anyway, you know how much i share your passion for books--nice selection, btw): hope you don't mind, but i tagged you! :)

1:11 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Hey, thanks! Listing down those six weird things must be fun. :)

1:26 PM  
Blogger John B. said...

I don't know how you found my blog or how long it's been the case, but I only learned this morning that you have linked to my humble blog. I just wanted to thank you for that--and thank you for providing your readers with such elegant writing.

I'll soon have up a reciprocal link.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

You're welcome. And thanks, too! I only link the blogs that I like. I think I must have found your URL through one of those fantastic reading blogs. :)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

It's wierd how you discover blogs, isn't it? I found yours via penfold's World Blog Council site, and I'm so glad I did. I'll be dropping back to read more on the strength of this post alone - it's good to read thoughtful posts.

Kind Regards


4:27 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Thanks! Do keep dropping by. :)

4:47 PM  
Blogger Santosh said...

Hey Maryanne,
Is your speard across all countries,hope i will find in my place.Here its my school holidays so just wanted to pass the time by reading books and blogging :)

1:33 PM  
Blogger Dewey said...

What a beautiful post this is!

5:37 AM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Thanks! :)

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do take your time. for when you do, you put us, your readers, in that timelessness of reading. thank you for your writing. i like the authenticity of your stories (your posts in your blog and your published stories).

6:06 AM  

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