In Italy, a filo rosso, literally “red thread,” is used to refer to a common thread running through any number of things, like a movie, book series, or one’s own life (as explained in the About section of this very blog!). We all have a red thread, or many, weaving through our lives. Just look back at turning points, highlights, crossroads, or the interests you follow and the relationships you’ve formed and you’ll find a common factor that ties many of them—or all—together (not unlike a theme or plot line in a book).
Writing and reading are two things I’ve always done and always will do—a lot of writers will say this. I don’t think I can call them exactly a filo rosso, because they’re almost too broad; but at the same time they’re more specific than, for example, saying the filo rosso of your life is eating lunch because you do it every day. Either way, reading and writing have punctuated my experiences since the time I was old enough to do both. I can call them, maybe, a filo verde. Green threads supporting an occasional red.
That being said, there are times when I just don’t feel like doing either. I can’t muster the patience or thoughtfulness or spark that usually gets pen on paper going; every book I pick up reads too slow, or the premise is stale, or I just don’t care. I’ve tried to figure out when this happens: it seems to be when my daily cares require much more attention than normal and trump my inner world. Off the top of my head, this happened during much of my undergrad, when I moved from Italy back to the U.S., and any time I’ve changed jobs.
On the other hand, certain activities that naturally immerse me in my immediate surroundings make me want to read and write more. Travel is one. Conversely, I know many people who couldn’t read or lost their verve for writing when the pandemic hit, even though the inner world was arguably more enticing of an escape than anything happening—or the lack thereof—outside.
So I don’t know the exact set of circumstances that pulls me away, from time to time. I do know that I’ll always return to reading and writing. But I’m always looking for ways to get back into it sooner. How do I do that? I dive into one of the following that have inspired me to write and read no matter what headspace I’m in:
Read the rest of this post (and some of my favorite recommendations on books, podcasts, prompts, and more!) on my Substack newsletter: Follow that story.