Home > writing life > ‘i’m not deaf, i’m just ignoring you’

‘i’m not deaf, i’m just ignoring you’

‘I’m not deaf. I’m just ignoring you’. That was what my bookmark had written on it it bold black letters. I’d hold it up whenever someone yelled my name for the third or fourth time when I ‘had my nose in a book’.   I remember it was yellow and had Garfield on it and stopped getting laughs early on in it’s career.

I was reminded of it today as I was working through the guilty pleasure of this fortnight. I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I’ve been reading. I guess it’s this time of year. I get spoiled with books and there’s no more delightful place to be than behind a big pile of them, ready to read. I was the child that ripped open those obviously shaped squares at Christmas time in ecstasy.

This year I asked my sister when we were doing the Christmas Wish Tree presents if she’d like the teenage vampire novel I’d wrapped if she was fifteen.

She wrinkled her nose, ‘Nah, I’d probably want make-up’.

I was glad I’d put the receipt in the cover, but I also hoped that the girl didn’t need it. Maybe she also stacked the books she received in one pile and got something that resembled an ice-cream headache in anticipation of which one to start first.

Maybe she was also asked daily, ‘Why don’t you go and play outside for a while?’

I’d look up with a crick in my neck and be amazed that I was still in the lounge room. That I wasn’t still in Wonderland with Alice, New York with Holden or the Prom with Carrie. So many places where I could go. Why on earth would I want to go outside?

When I’m curled up with a book and can just keep going, sometimes I look up half expecting someone to tell me to stop being so lazy. But laziness had nothing to do with me reading at the dinner table while food dropped from the fork halfway to my mouth. Reading on the toilet while my sisters hammered on the door. Reading on the grass outside, getting itchy imprints pressed into my belly and forearms. Reading with my legs thrown over the edge of the pool, placing the book carefully under my towel when I eventually got in. Riding my bike as far as I could go, letting it fall down in some strange park and taking out my crumpled book from my back pocket. Hiding uncool novels in my school bag only getting caught and taunted for the embarrassing covers. But I couldn’t leave them at home. All I wanted to do was read.

It was the thing that made me pick up the pen in the first place. I’d finish a book and kiss the spine with such awe. I wondered if I could do that? I didn’t get nagged or teased as much about my love affair with reading when I started writing stories. And so I never stopped.

The main difference now, is when I’m feeling guilty about my little read-a-thons is now I can call it research.

Happy guilt free 2010 my fellow word nerd and bookworms.


Best ten of 2009 (not released necessarily, just read by me.)

what we talk about when we talk about love – Raymond Carver

The Boat – Nam Le

Things We Didn’t See Coming – Steven Amsterdam

Look Me In the Eye – John Elder Robinson

Collected Stories and Poems – Allan Ginsberg

The Outsider – Albert Camus

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

Junky – William S Burroughs

Wonder Boys – Michael Chabon

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

Ten that made the teen yt stay inside fifteen years ago

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Carrie – Stephen King

Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Something Wicked This way Comes – Ray Bradbury

Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.

1984- George Orwell

Jennie – Paul Gallico

American Gothic Tales – Ed. Joyce Carol Oates.

  1. January 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I haven’t changed much since those childhood years either – I still spend more time reading and I still get books for Christmas (now from my children instead of my parents). And yes, I still have a great many of those books on my library shelves and every now and then I still take them out and touch them fondly with remembrance. I didn’t write stories though – I wrote plays in which I gave my three younger brothers all the mean parts and in which I was, of course, the heroine. I remember thinking, though, how much I wanted to be Jo in Little Women. Gradually – and sadly – I put writing aside for a very long time. Oh, I wrote a few poems filled with teenage angst in high school (none of which I could find now thank goodness) and a very few more the year between my 29th and 30th birthdays but I didn’t go back to seriously writing poetry until I joined RB two years ago this month. So it’s been more than 30 years since my fingers got ink stained from anything besides grading students’ papers. Now I can’t imagine not writing – or at least thinking about writing. But I still read more than I write and I suspect that as long as my eyes hold out, that that will be the case! Lovely story, Yaz – brought back so many memories! Happy New Year!!

  2. January 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

    That put a smile on my face, Lianne. I’m happy this sparked some memories for you and glad you picked up that pen again. I like how you wanted to be Jo. I wanted to be Alice quite badly. Happy New Year to you too. Feels like this is going to be a good one.

  3. Sheamus
    January 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    My earliest memories of reading are big brightly illustrated books about dinosaurs and things like Ruth Chew books (great short novels for kids), CS Lewis and an encyclopaedia of mysterious phenomena such as the Loch Ness monster, Mary Celeste and aliens visiting ancient Aztecs.

    Later it was RL Stine, Douglas Adams, the Diaries of Adrian Mole, Paul Jennings and whatever else we ordered from the Scholastic book club at school. Mum cross-stitched me a bookmark with a Stegosaurus on it. I played too many video games and watched a lot of anime as a teen and reading took a back seat until my early 20s when I discovered Orwell. My high school didn’t have 1984 in the curriculum because it contained sex and they were guilty uptight Catholics. They also replaced the Diary of Anne Frank with a much lamer novel about oppressed Jews.

    Now I steal your books x.

  4. January 10, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I like those memories and I loved those ghost stories and unsolved mysteries too. Still do. Enjoy ‘After Midnight’… my ten-year-old ratings (rad, okay, good, stupid-but-funny) will be the best guide, I’m sure.

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