• Danielle Hayden

I was trying to make my overflowing bookshelves more orderly before a visitor stopped by my home and I was disappointed at how many of those books I have not yet read (or have started but have not yet completed). I've always had a lot of books, and it was a point of pride years ago that I had read almost every one of the texts on the shelf. But then I allowed all these things to get in the way of just reading for fucking fun like I used to, and my house started to be haunted by the Unread. Because naturally I let myself stop reading as often but somehow that didn't also stop me from purchasing books. I did do what I refer to as a book buying diet for a while to save money, but I could only suppress the craving for so long.

Anyway, this leads me to my point: I was thinking about all the books I still want to read and the motivation is there; it has returned full force. Now, the only enemy is time. I shouldn't say 'only' as if it's a small thing; in life, time is seldom small thing. But I mean if I had the hours in a day, I would incorporate more reading into it. So it got me fantasizing about a life in which I was given a year to just read. Like, that was my job but not really a job. I didn't have to report on them or judge them or anything at all unless I felt inclined. I was just given 365 days to read whatever I wanted and I had no other obligations or commitments unless I wanted them, and things like rent and bills and food would be taken care of so I wouldn't need to trouble myself with such things as basic survival. Each day and all day I would just read, starting with the books on my shelves and then tasting a few of the hundreds of books on my TBR list that haven't been bought only because I'm not wealthy enough to do so. Imagine how much wiser and more interesting (albeit socially withdrawn) I'd be after reading millions of words.

Yes, I realize how nerdy this would be and it only makes me want it all the more. It's impossible, but a girl can dream.

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  • Danielle Hayden

Updated: Apr 24

Sometimes I work in silence, but I often prefer to work with background noise or music. For many people, noises are distracting but I am the opposite; sometimes I find that my mind is more likely to wander if the atmosphere is too quiet.

I was thinking recently about working with music on or not, as someone on Twitter had posed a question on this subject to her followers. For optimal results, I need the music on low. Lyrics are fine but instrumentals are slightly better to maximize results. Then I started thinking about college, which is really when I started working with music on. Music has always been a huge part of my life but not something I had paired with work before I set foot on a university campus. Freshman year I had a few favorites that I liked to work to. My #1 favorite was probably this song by Icelandic band Múm that I used to play over and over. The original version of "The Ballad of the Broken Birdie" is okay, but I really vibe with the Ruxpin remix here:

I could write a whole tome about my fondness for Nordic music—Icelandic especially—but I'll spare you that.

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  • Danielle Hayden

I've been reading more poetry lately, both in an effort to explore/broaden my horizons but also in the hope that it will improve my own writing. I do not consider myself a poet, but I believe that prose can greatly benefit from poetic influence; some of my favorite lines from novels and memoirs are lyrical in nature. There is a stereotype that poets (and writers in general) are sad people. I'm not too big on generalizations, but I thought this quote from Søren Kierkegaard was funny and worth a glance. (Not everything I share is necessarily something with which I agree, in whole or in part).

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.'”

If that's not dark enough, he adds later on the page: "I tell you, I would rather be a swineherd, understood by the swine, than a poet misunderstood by men."

I'm not going to get into a discussion about the quote today, but I do concede that there is a correlation between artistry and pain. To my knowledge, I have not met a happy poet before, but that does not mean they do not exist. I have defied enough stereotypes as a black woman from the east side of Detroit to know that groups are not monoliths.

P.S. I know I've quoted Kierkegaard once before—and fairly recently too—but I have a mild obsession with him so this is a heads up that he will make an appearance again on this blog.

I kind of wish I could read Danish (specifically 19th century) so I could understand his original texts before things got lost in translation. I have so much respect and admiration for translators but I have said before that reading things in a language other than the author/poet originally wrote in is just as lamentable as it is worth celebrating.