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Diss me, bloggers, for I have sinned

February 22, 2015


"Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Return of the Prodigal Son - Google Art Project" by Rembrandt - 5QFIEhic3owZ-A at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Return of the Prodigal Son, for those of you with an allegorical bent

It has been four months since I last read a published novel.

I have re-read parts of old favorites. I have read novels (and one screenplay) from members of my writer’s group, Writers Under the Arch. I have read articles in this or that periodical, graphic novels, and swaths of The Devil’s Dictionary. I have consumed–read implies more attention than I gave them–far too many posts, shares, and comments in social media.

But the man who more than once railed here and elsewhere against the phenomenon of writers who don’t read? I stopped reading new stuff in October.

Part of the reason was (as I noted here) the FIRST Lego League team I coached, which sucked an amazing amount of goody out of my brain. I don’t regret that, mind you! The balance of payments from that time, as it were, is very much on the positive side. And that only takes me through mid-December at most. After all, I was writing again by the end of the month.

So why wasn’t I reading?

I mean, I was still buying books. I have six now in my Kobo library, some patiently awaiting my attention, others leering at me with the mocking expressions only electronic versions of jacket covers can muster: Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Sword (my last book before the interlectum) , the most recent “Riddle in Stone” book from Robert Evert, the last two books of Simmons’ “Hyperion Cantos”, and Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Oh, and The Masked Songbird, by my fellow QueryTracker alum Emmie Mears, which I bought when it came out and which promptly disappeared from my library for months. At least it’s back.

I bought a copy of my friend Trey Dowell’s The Protectors when it came out, though it would technically count as a re-read, since I read it when it came through WUTA. I bought the first two books in Chuck Wendig’s “Blightborn” series as an Xmas present for my nephew, which reminded me I’ve been meaning to read them.

So why haven’t I read any of them?

It’s not like I’ve been oddly busy. I’ve had free time, which I’ve apportioned to less literary pursuits, such as 3D printing (which reminds me, I need to buy some PET tape), and playing Magic: the Gathering with my son (which reminds me, I need to track down a few Spellheart Chimera to try out that new deck). Planning a vacation, planning summer activities for the aforementioned boy, taxes…

No. I’ve dealt with distractions, essential and trivial, before and still fit in reading. It’s not a huge time sink–I can blow through a couple of pages a minute if it’s not Faulkner or Joyce–but I have to think of it. Or perhaps, I have to want to think of it. Or perhaps (and the smart money’s on this one) I have to not have to think about it, but rather simply do it from habit. The way I have since I was a kid.

Old habits are easy to fall back into, right?

And I can make the habit easier to re-establish. The tablet can live by the bedside. I can set an alarm to remind me to go to bed a little earlier, so I don’t simply switch from being grumpy about not reading to being grumpy about not sleeping (trust me, the latter is worse).

I can slap a novel in my Currently Reading bit, thus:

Currently Reading: The Masked Songbird, Emmie Mears

so I feel guilty if I’m NOT reading it.

But mostly–I can stop dwelling on possible causes and just read.

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