Sibling Assignment #175: The Art of Waxing and Waning

Brother Bill gave the sibling assignment this week. "Write a piece of creative non-fiction that ends with this sentence (or a slight variation): "Suddenly, bittersweet vellichor filled my entire being."
I will post theirs when complete.

 I have a passion for words. I love the placement of words on paper, whether I am reading or writing those words. I love the sound of words from a paragraph of a book, the verse of a poem, or a stanza of a song. I love the mixture of images and sounds of words which create a script for a play, movie, or television show. All of these forms of the written word draw me in, capture my attention, put in a zone where everything else is mute, or keep me fascinated for hours and days, but not on a routine basis.

My passion doesn't follow a set routine. I realize many skilled readers and writers set goals of reading so many pages or writing so many words each day. It it also what I wished for my students and attempted to provide time and structure just for that in the classroom. I also wished it for myself. Being away from daily time with students in the classroom, it has made me realize that just doesn't work for me. I felt like a failure because  I wasn't reading a book or books, writing a blog post each day, keeping up with a journal, and/or watching an important film that everyone was talking about. When there was more time for myself after leaving teaching, I had a vision of doing it all. It hasn't worked that way.

My passion for words is all about waxing and waning. I can sit and never move until I read an entire book. I can then go three weeks without reading another. I can fill up ten pages with prose on a given morning, but not write again for a month. Sometimes all I do is listen to music. Other days I only listen to silence. I can decide I am going to watch all films starring Diane Keaton and do it for weeks. Then there is a dry period.

In our family we joke about our obsessions. I obsess over lists of books I want to read, prose I want to write, titles of films I want to see, music I want to listen to. I obsess to get through the lists, but then may set the lists aside. I immerse myself in my obsessions, then move away. Fortunately during the dry periods I do a lot of thinking and reflecting. Again, it is the art of waxing and waning.

I took a day recently and revisited my bookshelves, boxes of books from the move, stacks of journals, pieces of writing, and films waiting to be watched. I felt comfort in being surrounded by so many words.I found books to give away, others I wanted to share with friends and family.  I listened to music, I read my writing, I revisited my blog. I organized, plotted, planned, and set goals on how I might add more of my passion for words into my days. I also gave myself permission to wax and wane.

As the afternoon sun set behind the mountain out the window on that day, I took a deep breath and slowly scanned the room filled with papers, dusty books, spirals, composition books, file folders, brand new books, pens, an original i Pod, a granola bar wrapper, and a cold cup of coffee. Suddenly, bittersweet vellichor filled my entire being.

from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, 
which are somehow infused with the passage of 
time—filled with thousands of old books 
you’ll never have time to read, 
each of which is itself locked 
in its own era, bound and dated and papered over 
like an old room the author abandoned years ago, 
a hidden annex littered with thoughts. 


  1. Thanks, Christy, for sharing this; I loved the new word. Keep writing. Lacie

  2. I love you talking about being surrounded by words. I do the same waxing and waning in my life. But I call them "cycles". I am in the voracious reader cycle right now. But sometimes I hardly read at all. Not much writing going on, but it that cycle will return, too.

  3. Your words connected with me. I've also been waxing and waning my entire life. I've recently returned to blogging and reading blogs. No idea how long this will last. I'm also reading books again, which has been a lifelong pleasure. Time to get off this computer and pick that book up!


I always enjoy reading comments!