On reading and writing and slowly going nowhere

I track the books I read, I have since I was in my early twenties—first in small hardcover journals, now on a spreadsheet. I’m not a spectacularly fast reader but in recent months my completion rate has fallen to a crawl. I have submitted a couple of reviews for publication elsewhere but my blog has seen few fresh posts. I’m probably reading half a dozen books, including several poetry and essay collections, but focus is hard to find and sustain. However, I am not a loss for the company of words. I have a couple of longer essays to edit for the upcoming Scofield, as well as final assignments for a copy editing course I’ve been taking; and I have to say that losing myself in the words of others from a perspective that draws from, and yet differs from, that of a reader or a writer, is proving to be exactly the distraction I needed.

These past few weeks have been difficult.

Thanksgiving was a trigger point; the first day where the magnitude of the recent losses—of my parents and one of my closest friends—hit home and hit hard. That aloneness that goes to the core. Rather than dissipating, the darkness grew, and despite some very positive events and occurrences in my life, it threatened to overwhelm. Within a week I was feeling seriously suicidal for the first time in more than twenty years. The only thing holding me back was the thought of all the work I would put my children and brothers through, something I know especially well as co-executor of my father’s will.

I have sought help. I have reached out.

It does not seem to be depression as much as grief; and it’s a multi-layered, complex grief. So although I still struggle, at times, against the feeling that I don’t want to keep on living; I am not feeling inclined to take matter into my own hands. Of course, none of this is aided by the fact that I have been fighting a vicious cold, hacking cough and all. Makes it very hard to find that spark, but I hope it’s rekindled soon. This is a hell of a way to live, but I’ll keep reading, sketching out ideas, and writing while I wait.

6412706291_3376c44b28_zThroughout all of this there has been goodness: A forthcoming review of a book that has, more than anything I have read for a long while, made me think about a way to approach some writing I have in mind (I will write about it when the review goes live); a long conversation with a Twitter friend who is still far away, but now close enough to call (a real treat because Twitter has been a little uncomfortable for me of late, but that’s another story); and the publication of an essay I wrote for Literary Hub. The essay is called A Reader’s Journey Through Transition, and I don’t know what was more exciting, publication day itself or seeing my name in the week-end review with other authors like Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Rabih Alameddine, and Marilynne Robinson!


Author: roughghosts

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

18 thoughts on “On reading and writing and slowly going nowhere”

  1. I don’t want to say anything facile: grief is a hard journey and there are days when it comes in waves and it can be overwhelming. For most of us, it’s true that it becomes something you can live with though it will always be part of your life, but there are days when you can’t see how that could ever be true. Those are the days when you do need to reach out and I am glad that you have.
    I just want to say that I am reading you thoughts (and your excellent reviews) and that I value your presence here on the web.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lisa. I don’t like to post when I am feeling so negative, but the process of articulating my emotions (with discretion I hope) is helpful. So much of what I am dealing with has no words at all yet.


  2. it takes a very courageous person to reveal to anyone how they are feeling. We are so used to responding when people ask “i’m fine” that to admit we are not somehow seems like failure. You are clearly one very brave woman who has faced some dark moments and made a decision that despite that grief and darkness, there are some things that make life worth living. Hold onto that for all its worth and know that all of us who have come to know you through your blog will hold your hand even if we can do so only virtually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I hate to talk about the dark stuff, but writing it out reminds me of the positives. One note though, I am a man. I don’t talk about gender too openly on my blog but as the article I linked here shows, my “female” life is far behind. 🙂


  3. A brave post Joe, and I can’t even begin to imagine what you must have been feeling lately with so much to contend with. Be assured that you have friends and people who are concerned for you and hang in there – time *will* bring healing, I’m sure, and you’ll eventually find books to be comfort they have been before. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you sought help, and that you’re still here. From the little I’ve read of your writing so far, I see that you have a gift to offer, so please know that your words are being read and appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am very sorry for your grief and difficulties but I am very glad you have sought help. Your voice is a special one and I would hate to have it silenced. You are brave and strong and can get through this.

    For some reason I did not connect the LitHub essay with you. It was really awesome and I have seen it linked around on blogs. well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts Stefanie! I’m glad you liked the essay, I’m always a little cautious about writing about my “journey,” so to speak, but the reception has been very positive. Fooled you by publishing it under my real name! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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