Saturday, July 26, 2008

Confession, or, Self-Imposed Drought Due To Communist Conspiracy

I haven't read a book in nearly 8 months.

Does that statement freak you out? It freaks me out. Various people I've said it to have got this look on their face, and the response is usually along the lines of "who are you and what have you done with Tessa?" Which is a pretty good question.

It isn't as though I haven't been reading stories. I've mauled three and a half manuscripts, and will be starting a fourth soon, not to mention all the reading for Weird Tales (a task that is perpetually surprising in both good and bad ways). Yet reading to provide feedback is a markedly different process than reading because you want to. I half wonder if I hit some sort of criticism burnout, but I doubt it.

Maybe it's because I haven't been able to create a dedicated reading space or time. The move to the city took away the time I spent reading on the train, and there was nowhere in the apartment to settle into for the long haul other than the bed. Maybe, but I doubt it.

Maybe it's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which has had a bookmark stuck somewhere in chapter 2 for the past 8 months. Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, but, you, I doubt it.

I'm pretty sure it's the symptom of a prolonged hissy fit.

When you're going through the emotional wringer, it is hard not to lash out at something. Anything. In an effort not to be a total jerk at people who didn't deserve it, my resentment of the world at large ended up being channeled towards something that both meant a lot to me and couldn't fight back (a very important trait when you're looking for a fight).

It isn't such a hard leap to make, when you think about it. Most books offer some sort of closure, or sense of balance and sweet holy fuck, they're qualities that life fails at, astonishingly so. Even those books that offer no answers or neat resolution are guilty of aggravation because they end. The words stop, there are no more pages, there is nothing more that the story can do to the characters. Life tends to just, keep, going, long after the story has ended.

'Allergic to fiction' I said, the same way people are allergic to others who have what they want.

It's stupid, but at least makes more sense than blaming a run of bad luck on some communist ufo government secret society conspiracy.

At least, I think so.

Oh shoosh.

8 months is, I think, long enough for a hissy fit. (Actually, that's quite a spectacular hissy fit.) There's a book-shaped hole in my life that, as vacuums do, is sucking me in. I still have no proper reading space or reading time, other than the odd hour spent at the laundromat, but desire is a force strong enough to bend time and space to its will.

Baby steps, as they say. I will finish Kavalier & Clay, one visit to the laundry at a time.


  1. Anonymous26/7/08 02:57

    Coincidentally I also have had a bookmark stuck in chapter two of 'Kavalier and Clay' for a number of months. All those books and stuff clamoring for attention...and then there's the tragic realization that you are judging the value of your days not by interpersonal triumphs and successes but by what you have managed to read. Or at least I do...and it's kindofa depressing thought.


  2. Anonymous26/7/08 03:47

    Enthusiasm for reading is, I think, just another of those life things that waxes and wanes. It happened to me for a while a few years ago. When reading has been so integral to your life, it does come as a bit of shock to realise one day that you're just not that into it any more. Easy to feel guilty about it too, which doesn't help. I think you're right though, it's often a sign of other issues taking up too much space in our heads. So don't worry - make some time for reading and it'll come back in due course.

    When my reading mojo eventually returned, it was ruthlessly hungry for quality; I'm much more ready to ditch a book partway through if I'm not enjoying it.

  3. 4 what its worth there is;


    "communist ufo government secret society conspiracy."

    It's called the, 'your rights at work campaign 08, 4 market researchers'. They just want more money 4 booze, blackjack, and strippers.

    4 moar nut-jobbery, this is really good;

  4. Have you tried Yukio Mishima? I find he's a good one to read when you're feeling hissy. You and he can hiss together and you can drift away on the well-crafted tide of his barminess

  5. Anonymous26/7/08 06:25

    I just realised the other day that it's been quite some time since I read a book too. And the last one or two I never finished.

    It is weird.

    But I think your thoughts are right. There's just too much other stuff going on.

  6. Tim, if managing to read is something you consider a triumph, then you've nothing to be depressed about. :)

    Chris, I think Clarion already made me a quality nazi, but I've worked hard to fix that. The next Vampire Hunter D book has been on my shelf for months.

    ~, I have dabbled in VtM, and shall never look at it sideways again. Nuh uh.

    Kirsten, not familiar with him, but the name has been noted. While I haven't been reading...I never actually stopped buying books. Which is kinda wrong, but it means my backlog is the biggest it's ever been.

    Selena, I think it's like Chris said, a cycle of what you can spare mental energy on (although if you didn't finish the last two books, maybe you've also just had a bad run of books).