Reading & Writing a Life

Carla Pineda's blog

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Reading and writing as weaving

 “I am always a little skeptical when someone tells me they want to be a writer and then tells me they don’t read.”  (Oriah Mountain Dreamer in What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul)

I agree with her.  So often when I have this yearning to write and I’m not sure where to start I’ll go to one of my books and pull out a sentence, question or phrase, place it in my journal and see where I end up.  Half the fun is not knowing what will end up on the page.  At times it is only random thoughts or comments.  And, then there is the gem, maybe right in the middle of the page that says “wow, where did that come from?” or “I never knew that I felt that way”.  I may feel a rush of emotion, feel a tear or sense a giggle coming on.  Then, that becomes the beginning for what I’ll write next.  I love to go back and retrace these kinds of threads and see what the tapestry looks like.  How about you?

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The power of reading

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.  You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.  You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”    (Cesar Chavez, 1984).   

Last week the bookshop where I work celebrated a grand re-opening after moving into their new home. The Twig Bookshop at the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas ( has been around for many years and is an icon of reading and learning for adults and children in the San Antonio area.  The opening focused on the children, with storytelling, puppets and even the very hungry caterpillar her/himself.  The store was full of people; parents, grandparents, babies, strollers, shoppers, people who are faithful patrons of the store and first timers.  It was wonderful.  But, what moved me the most were the times I would look around and see a child, legs twisted under her, sitting in a chair, lost in a book as if she were the only person in  the whole place.  The concentration and intensity in her eyes was a wonder to behold.    To watch a young person engrossed in the love of reading is a gift to behold and hope for our future. 



Virginia Woolf

Monday the 25th was Virginia Woolf’s birthday.  I recently bought a copy of “A Room of One’s Own”  and it is on my bedside table.  I can’t believe I haven’t read it before.  It’s been on a “To Read Someday” list.  Maybe I’ll start it today.

 A “To Read Someday” List…I just realized that I have one.  I wonder what else is on the list.  I know there are books on the bookshelf I haven’t gotten around to reading and of course there are the new ones coming out all the time.  And, then there is the discovery of a new author who, once I read something they have written, I am pretty sure I’ll buy their next book.  So, I guess this list evolves as my life does.  The books shape my life in their own way and what is going in my life may direct what I am drawn to read at any given time.

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a life shaped by reading and writing

Over the years I have reflected on how reading and writing have been so central to who I am.  I grew up around books, my parents and grandparents had a bookstore when Mother was pregnant with me (if my calculations are right). Anyway, I remember the store from when I was little and roaming up and down its aisles.  Mother was an English teacher, Minnie always writing something, and bookcases lined every available wall in the houses I grew up in, as they do in my own home today.  There was no such things as a “banned book” in our house. “Read it if you must” Mother would say but then she and I would talk about it; why had I wanted to read it, did I get anything out of it”?  There was the library and the bookmobile that came down the street once every week or so.  I always checked out the maximum number of books allowed.  And, gifts from my parents and grandparents were often books…of course!

I had “diaries” when I was growing up.  They were the little books with a lock and key and thin, tight lines.  There wasn’t much room for reflection; usually only a listing of daily events.  I wrote in notebooks over the years and collected pages of quotes, questions, poetry; things that whispered or screamed to me things like “pay attention” or “what does this mean?”  Then there were times when a counselor or therapist “suggested” I write out the thoughts and feelings that were whirling around in my head and heart.  It always seemed to help.  In a previous life I worked as a counselor and found that sharing my experiences with both reading and writing often led others to find a path, a connection, or some clarity for their own journey.

And, so now I wonder how all of this has shaped me?  Why do I so fondly (hard to believe) remember my freshman English class in high school where the final was a 15 question essay test on a short story?  And, there were no right or wrong answers!  Why do I have to mark up my books with my own thoughts, reflections or questions and why do I rarely leave home without my journal?  Why are there books by the bedside table and on the floor by the couch?  And, why do I love working in a bookstore?   Because I know that my life has been profoundly shaped by reading and writing.  And, now this romp into a blog…well, I’m curious to see what new nuance, wrinkle, or wiggle comes forth.