January 2016: A slow start to my reading year (and why does that bother me?)

The first month of 2016 has almost slipped away and I am feeling overloaded. Too many stressors have collided to take a curious toll on my ability to read and blog. My reading continues to be fractured. Books are not the same refuge they were a few months ago. Not that they don’t keep arriving (or rather following me home) and haunting me as the stacks pile up, staring at me, daring me to read faster. But my reading is slow, and the books I had expected to venture into by month’s end have not yet been cracked.

And then there is life, the one that doesn’t exist in books, the one that can’t be shelved or put aside for a later date or, as much as I would love it sometimes, be tossed into a pile to go out to the next charity sale. It is hardly a surprise. Over the past month I have had to face some extraordinary challenges on the home front – some new, some long standing, and others simply arising from the financial reality of owning a car and a house, both of which are well past their prime. Some matters have been resolved – one mechanic and two plumbers later – I just have to figure out how to pay for them; others are less concrete, more emotionally corrosive and resolution is not in sight. If another well meaning person says, “This too shall pass,” my reaction may be less than generous.

Copyright JM Schreiber, 2013 The last time I had a month with two separate plumbing calls I took this shot to celebrate the joy of a clear drain that had been blocked for more than four weeks.
Copyright JM Schreiber, 2013
The last time I had a month with two separate plumbing calls I took this shot to celebrate the joy of a clear drain that had been blocked for more than four weeks.

Through it all I have been reading but by some weird twist of logic my attention has been drawn toward much more intensive review projects. Blogging is fine but for each review I write I spend 4-6 hours, so when I encounter an ambitious, complex, postmodern novel like Klaus Hoffer’s Among the Bieresch, forthcoming from Seagull Books; I can’t resist the desire to read into the varied subtextual materials, especially the works that I don’t know well and – with luck – explore the novel in a space with greater critical elbow room and a much wider audience than my blog commands. There’s a voice in my head that says “Are you out of your mind?” and, maybe I am but, at this moment, I seem to be most comfortable burying myself in demanding critical projects, losing myself I suppose. At the same time, I am also spending more time on my own writing: a personal essay I hope to enter in a contest and a piece of experimental prose.

Tell me then, what is with this book blogging pressure I feel? It’s not a numbers game. No one is going to disown me if I don’t read and review two books a week. Reading and writing about books is supposed to be fun. And, heaven knows, the spaces I that want to write for, on or off my blog, are literary acts of love and, as such, there’s typically no money involved.

So blog posts may be slower for a while. I am reading. I am writing. And I am dealing with all the messy business of living.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

31 thoughts on “January 2016: A slow start to my reading year (and why does that bother me?)”

  1. Glad to hear you are writing – that is the most important thing, more than reviewing. I need to take a page out of your book, but I find when life overwhelms me, it’s easier to find refuge in reading and reviewing. The opposite of you! And I criticise myself harshly for it.
    So well done, and allow yourself the pleasure of reading as and when you please.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes life is more important I often feel guilt pains when I’ve not blogged as much as I feel I should but is all about keeping balance it’s like a lot of spinning plates once in a while one has to fall off and be replaced

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Despite all that you mention, your writing is indeed well put together. This is a great read too. I find that humbling; my emotional paralysis often extends to writing as well.

    And I’ll never again say ‘This too shall pass.’ Cross my heart and hope to die. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You don’t know how long I pecked away at this, even wondering if I should publish it at all. Strangely it seems that when things are at their worst, the drive to try to write my way through becomes strongest. Keeping with it through to the final edit and getting it out there is the tough part. I have a large collection of false starts…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am also having a slow reading year, slower than yours it would seem. And I still have 10 reviews to write of the books I read in December. I am not going to review every book I read this year though. As you have reminded yourself already, its not a competition and no-one is paying you. The hard thing when in a reading slump is knowing that there are so many books you want to read that you will never get to in your lifetime.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Before I started blogging about books, which if nothing else provides an opportunity for me to read deeper and catalogue my response to a work (which sometimes does not hold up looking back), I used to chose books on a whim and not worry if it took 3 weeks or more to finish something. I still bought much more than I could read but this past year along with my reading rate, my book acquisition rate has exploded. My haul from South Africa alone is enough to occupy me for a long time! 😀

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  5. I think we all of us feel the book blogging pressure at some time or another and it is completely crazy because there are no obligations except the ones we impose on ourselves. So try to not worry about it, you post when you feel like it or when you are able and it is perfectly fine. Keep reading and writing and dealing with life and taking care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My January has been difficult as well. On top of not having time to read and not finding a book I can lose myself in, I felt guilty that I didn’t post anything for almost 2 weeks. And guess what… the world didn’t end. 🙂 Take the time you need to deal with your real-life challenges. I can guarantee we’ll still be around when things have settled and you can once again devote more time to your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really struggle with this issue, too, surrounding blogging. I love it, but must leave time for my primary writing, and life of course. There is a lot of pressure to publish blog posts often, but I simply can’t do this. I don’t do reading challenges. I want to give some thought to the books I read and to what I offer my readers – what important nuggets of wisdom or insight will be valuable to them that they won’t find elsewhere, and that will will give them something to think about even if they don’t end up reading the book? So I post somewhat infrequently, tho I’m trying for once a week now; I take the approach that first and foremost reading serves my life and my writing, and that secondarily I want to share something of what I glean with my readers, so their lives will be enriched a tiny bit. I think blogging and the internet are still evolving, and I’ve had to remind myself that it doesn’t serve me well to post often; that’s not what I’m about as a writer. So I trust and hope that as our online, virtual lives evolve, writers and artists, to have any visibility or an audience, maybe won’t have to feed the content monster so much. And if I don’t ever have the number of readers or interest that I’d like, so be it. There is only so much time, and I need to do what I’m inspired to do. I think it’s great that you’re putting energy into an essay right now. Good luck with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We all go through these rough patches. It’s okay to take a break from blogging. Over the years I’ve put mine on hold for months at s time while I’ve dealt with issues in my life. I soon learned that the blog was a creative outlet, not a commercial/professional proposition, and that it had to be done on my terms and no one else’s. These days I update once a week (as opposed to every day) and that works well for me. It’s about finding a balance and remembering it’s quality not quantity that matters. Hope things pick up for you, but take your time: your loyal blog followers will be hear waiting for you whenever you post something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim. (when I type your name my tablet prompts”Kardashian” a name I have never until now used) I know I am allowing myself to feel pressure when no one is forcing me to blog. But the reading/writing is like an essential exercise that helps me feel like I’m keeping in shape, you know. At the moment I am up at my parent’s house where my dad has come home against all advice, but away from the other distractions I hope to read!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. If you’re brain is telling you it wants more intense projects then why fight it? It’s as good coping strategy as any right now. If it means the amount of books you read decreases or the blogging frequency drops off, then so what? There will come a time when the wheel of fortune will turn again. So right now, go with the flow

    Liked by 1 person

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