Being a voracious reader can really suck

Reflections on my week.

In one word: “Crazy.” My grandson was born and we are busy welcoming him. When the baby powder settles my life may get back to normal, but I’m in no hurry. It’s a special time for all of us.

Scandal …rocks the KOD Chapter (Kiss of Death/Romantic Suspense chapter of the RWA). The former treasurer resigns admitting to plagiarism. Sad news for all.

Word Count: doesn’t count this week. I’m editing, so I keep cutting words, and my numbers are shrinking.

Social Media: I can’t keep up with my e-mails let alone figure out how to manage Facebook or Goodreads. Twitter and Triberr accounts are going well. I can’t believe anyone can do it all.

Being a voracious reader can really suck… .  I work hard at crafting words and then at the end of the day I open a book and  WAMO I get blown away with the beauty of the prose inside.  Good authors make it all look easy.

Currently I’m reading Jeff Abbott’s, Black Jack Point, a suspense thriller. He hooked me in the first paragraph:

“In shimmering heat, Jimmy Bird smoked a cigarette and paced off a rectangle of dirt. About the size of a grave, a little wider, a little longer. Jimmy wasn’t good at math – that algebra in high school where they mixed letters and numbers together had been his undoing- but he could eye a piece of ground and calculate how long it took to clear and dig to a certain depth. Ditches. Garden beds. Graves. The earth on Black Jack Point fed salt grass and waist-high bluestems and Jimmy pictured a hole six feet across, six feet down. He figured it would take him and his partners three hours of steady digging, being a little slower in the dark. Then an  hour or so to sort through the loot, load the valuables on the truck, and good-bye poverty. In a few days he’d be poolside in the Caribbean, chatting up coffee-colored girls in bikinis, fishing in water bluer than blue, buying a boat and lazing on its warm deck and watching the world not go by.” (Onyx Press, p. 3)

It’s so well written it makes my eyes pop and rattle around inside my brain. “…watching the world not go by.” Where did  he get such a brilliant line? How can he condense so much character and setting into one paragraph about digging a hole? Amazing.

And it leaves me feeling…very, very green.

Yup…being a voracious reader can really suck sometimes, but the alternative is worse:)

Do you have favourite first paragraphs?

And then…there’s the B.C. teacher strike scheduled for Monday . Cheryl Angst states the teacher’s position well on her blog. The line that rang most true for me is: “I didn’t teach last year. I performed triage.” That is what teaching in a BC classroom feels like these days, and though I’m now retired and won’t be walking the picket line, my heart is with the teachers and the students of this province. Our education system is falling apart. We need fair bargaining, more support for students and a vision of how to make things work in our changing world.

We all know that there is a limit to the pieces of straw you can add to the donkey’s back before it breaks. There is also a limit to how many students can be squeezed into a classroom lacking in resources before the education system becomes so weakened that learning is only a hopoeful byproduct.

What are your thoughts?

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

10 thoughts on “Being a voracious reader can really suck”

  1. Love your part about working hard on craft and then you read something someone else wrote and you’re blown away by the extraordinary prose. One of them that gets me is Hemingway, particularly Movable Feast – so many sentences that were perfect.


    1. Judi
      Hemingway has always been one of my favourite writers too. I think I’ll go back and read Movable Feast again. He’s so masterful with words.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Best Wishes


  2. I totally agree with you I work and work on my craft and I read someone else work….and I’m blown away. Great blog. Thanks


    1. Mary
      Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels feeble when they look at great writing.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Best Wishes


  3. Jo-Ann, I’m impressed you found time to write this what with the new grandchild. I loved the first paragraph you shared and so glad you found time to read a little for pleasure. As beautiful as it is, it strikes me as not following many of those rules I’m always hearing about. LOL I guess it goes back to knowing the rules and knowing when to break them.

    I will use restraint to not write a book about the education situation you mention. I’m a retired elementary principal and former school board member. There’s no way to thank teachers enough for doing the work of the angels. We have a program in Texas called Parents as Teachers. Parent educators go into homes to help parents understand how important they are, to help them develop skills to be the best parents they can be, and to do early screenings to catch learning delays so early intervention can take place. As a former high school teacher, I kept trying to see where to fix the problems. How did my 9th grade student get to where he was and not know how to write a complete sentance? I decided it wasn’t just middle school, not just elementary, not just pre-K (Though in my opinion, every child needs to be in Pre-k), but all the way back to parents. That’s what PAT does. Unfortunately, in Texas the program doesn’t cover all children, but fortunately, the idea is expanding.

    Well, it’s not a book, more like a novella. LOL But I could write a book!
    Thanks for posting, Jo-Ann.


    1. Marsha
      Great reply. We should write a book together. I love your line that teachers are, “doing the work of the angels.” So true.
      I would have loved to have worked with you as an administrator.PAT sounds like a great idea. If we could find an effective way to support positive parenting we could change the world. I wish we had something like that here.
      In British Columbia the government keeps cutting programs, so every year teachers have to do more with less. One of the greatest problems I experienced teaching grades six and seven was being given more and more diverse learners and mainstreaming all students with special needs. It’s an expensive and flawed plan.Right now the gov. is trying to legislate an agreement with teachers that not only takes away their bargaining rights and gives them 0% increase in pay, but also takes away their right to bargain class size and composition. One wonders if this hard line stance isn’t an attempt to break our public school system and drive parents to private schooling. We had a good public school system, and this is a tragedy. My 2 cents…
      Yes, I am an exhausted grandma, but a happy one:)
      Thanks for taking the time to share,
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann (who yearns to do a good job of break writing rules)


      1. BC sounds a lot like Texas. Who knew? With no will to raise taxes, the Legislature cut funds to everything, including schools. (By law, local school districts can’t raise their taxes above a specified amount without a vote of the people and because of prior cuts to public ed, everyone is at the max.) As a result, school districts have been forced to lay off teachers and staff and enlarge class sizes. (Years ago, a legislature more supportive of public education passed a 22 to 1 students to teacher ratio in grades k-4. What a huge difference that makes.) This year many districts have had to add students.
        I’m afraid you’re right. Some people really want to get rid of public education. The mind boggles at what our courtries would be like without that opportunity.

        And I so get your situation with special education. Again a cost cutting issue made districts mainstream more students with special needs than I believe is best for them. Why can’t we look at things from what’s best for kids? Isn’t that what an IEP is for? Okay, enough, I tend to soapbox. LOL

        Picked up my youngest grand and took to day care this morning for my first time. The workers reminded me to take a picture of Grand 3 to send to her parents! My daughter sends a pic to her husband before she leaves the center. Technology is pretty cool.

        We have two members of our chapter who write books together. They have a blast. It looks crazy while they are in the throes of creation, which I got to observe at a writers’ retreat last fall. Makes it not such a lonely journey. Again, thanks to technology helping connect us with people far away. Marsha


      2. Hi Marsha
        I’m sorry to say that BC is like Texas. How can such beautiful and civilized places destroy public school education.
        It’s painful to watch.
        I think I’ll go hold my grandson. It is one joy that will never change.
        Thanks for taking the time to visit and share your life.
        Best Wishes


  4. I so sympathize with you about writing all day then feeling green when you read someone else’s work. Yes, it has been a crazy week for many of us, but what a celebration in your family! Concentrate on that, and forget all the rest. That said…

    In the 1930’s the textbooks in the US were rewritten – much of the history was changed, in particular, and the focus of the public school system was altered from inspiring independent thought and creativity to creating worker bees. I wish I had homeschooled KJ from the beginning – when he was 3 and asked me to teach him to read. But I didn’t because I knew he’d be bored in school. Talk about stupid.

    I so admire good teachers. But my child, who, without being taught, could subtract at 18mo and explain the principles of multiplication at age 3, came home from the first grade one day saying, “I’m terrible at math. I hate it. I’m never doing math again.” And he didn’t. Well, as little as possible, and that was like pulling eye teeth. Yet his favorite middle-school book was a biography of self-educated Nathaniel Bowditch, who figured out how to navigate longitudinally, and was full of mathematical formulas. He goes for his Commercial Pilot Licence tomorrow – at age 19 – and aviation is all about math & physics. But he learned it all on his own – not a lick of it came from a classroom.

    The problems with public education run so deep that I really don’t think they can be solved without starting from scratch. But in the meantime, we have tireless teachers who are not paid enough, over-flowing classrooms, lack of supplies, and parents who both have to work or are raising their children alone and are so strapped for time, money and energy that the kids don’t get the support they need. (I also think kids should be kids, and shouldn’t be loaded down with homework, especially the elementary school kids. If the class sizes were smaller they might get it all done in class and not be burned out by the third grade!)

    I will put my soapbox away now.


    1. Kemala
      I wish your son well on his pilot license test. How exciting!
      I agree with you that the school system needs a major overhaul and it frustrates me that it changes so slowly. I hope that we can save it because I believe in public school education system.


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