I admit: I’m quick to judge. Always have been. Time has taught me, however, to keep those judgments to myself, simply because I’m well aware that one day in the future, I might become the very thing I was judging all those years ago.
Case in point: when I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop back in 2005, I was still very new to the SF/F/H genre of books and was ready to try anything that anyone said was any good. I felt that it was necessary, since as a reader, I wasn’t well-read in the genre, and also because as a writer, it was important to know what was being published.
So I boggled when some of my classmates admitted they didn’t read very many books a year, or that they rarely if ever read new-to-them authors, or that they only read their favorite authors, or that they could easily put a book down if it didn’t engage them.
Heresy! Don’t you know that every book, no matter how awful, can teach you something? How are you going to discover new and exciting voices and influences in fiction if you don’t try anyone new? How can you want to be a writer and not have your pulse on the industry?
Well, it’s safe to say, nearly ten years later, I get it.
It stated innocently enough: running my book blog meant I needed to keep a steady stream of book reviews available, and when I stumbled on something, — by that I mean something that bored me and/or was badly written, etc — I realized it was time to put the book aside so I could move onto bigger, better, more engaging books (and so I could keep reviewing at a regular pace).
But ever since closing the book blog last year, I’m surprised at how little time I have left for reading.
Sure, that time is taken up with other things: working out, writing (depending on the time of year and the project), and snuggling on the loveseat to catch up on must-see television shows/movies on Netflix/Hulu Plus/iTunes, hanging out with the husband, hanging out with family and friends. The drop in the number of books I read pre-closing versus post-closing was surprising, but that was last year.
This year, the drop is staggering. I went from reading 3-4 books per week during my reviewing days to 1-2 last year not reviewing to this year, where I’m lucky to finish a book I like by an author I adore in two weeks.
I know it’s because of this year. People who follow me on Facebook were startled when, two weeks ago, I posted:
Dear 2014: I’ve tried to take the high road and not say anything, but you’ve been a shitty year. Please, for the love of God, stop sucking, okay?
And I still mean that. It’s been the year of distractions, of stepping back and taking stock of my life: where it’s going, what I want, who I am, and who I want to be. I think I’m making progress, but there are those days that knock me so far back on my ass I’m wondering what the point of getting up is.
And there’s the bad news that keeps rolling in. People are dying who are too young to die. People who aren’t too young to die are dying and it still upsets me greatly. People are getting divorced, or having so much trouble in their marriage that it looks like divorce is just around the corner.
And that’s just the tip of an iceberg that’s made up of so much bad news from so many of my friends and family that I’m wondering what the hell is going on and when it’s going to stop.
Needless to say, I’ve not been in a good headspace. I’m having to re-teach myself to put aside time to read, because it’s something I enjoy. I’m having to reorder my brain and remind myself that I’m a writer with stories to tell and that sitting down to tell them is a good thing, and essential to my mental health. And yet all of that seems to clash with some of the other responsibilities thrust on me this year, and sometimes, it scares me.
But the point of this post isn’t begging for hugs or asking people to reach out or to make people wonder what’s wrong. Ultimately, what’s wrong is that the older you get, the more shit happens, and if not that, there’s still going to be more on your mental plate.
It’s no wonder I’m lacking the focus to read. Still, I can’t help but mourn, just a little, for that lost ability, especially in contrast to all the books in my physical TBR pile and on my wishlist that I want to read. But I do get it, now. Why people start getting pickier and pickier with the books they read, why they get more jaded. I’ve reached a point where I’m looking at the list of my favorite authors to note what they’re coming out with this year and realizing that I might have just reached the point where all I can read are the latest releases from the authors I love.
That’s amazing, in both a good and bad way. So here’s hoping I get my brain back.