On the Shelf: Empty Shelves…

Did I read, well, anything? This week? At all?

The sad answer is, no, I did not.

At this point, my Goodreads reading challenge is starting to feel a little neglected, my Kindle looks like someone with undiagnosed ADHD has been dipping in and out trying to get back in the reading groove, and my nightstand is littered with the attempts I’ve made to start and finish something.

Ugh. I’m in a reading slump.

What to do when what you want to do isn’t working…

I really do want to read. I want to lose myself in a good book, lose track of time, and just let the characters take me away. There’s so much research I want to do right now–history, and green witchery, and the craft of horror writing–and the more I want to, the less I find myself cracking open the book and just going for it.

This question is not rhetorical. I’m asking in earnest. How do people get back on track? There’s a concept I’ve found in the books I’m reading called “shadow work,” where you dig into your conscious/subconscious to try to excavate the reasons behind the surface problems you’ve got going on. So, this morning, I decided to sit and meditate and think about what’s going on.

Trying to do all the things equals doing none of the things.

AGAIN! I come to this conclusion. But it’s an old conclusion, and this past month I have been consciously working to divest and delegate and accept that not all things will get done. So what else do I need to confront?

Realization 1: I’ve been wanting to read fiction, but every time I sit down to read during the day, I feel like I’m neglecting my work. I’m not doing the edits I need to for the next Midnight Bites, I’m not reading submissions, I’m not proofing the print master for SWTAM3, I’m not making the writer edits for Cold Run … in short, I’m not working.

Realization 2: I’m worried that if I sit down to read non-fiction, it will give me a writing idea. Wait. What? Why am I worried about this? Okay, so, diving deeper, I realized I’m worried that maybe I won’t have something near me to write down this idea. Um … I have a great multitude of pens, notebooks, index cards, Post-It Notes and other implements of writing at close hand. And if those fail, I have my phone notes. Perhaps I’m worried about losing those notes until the time that I need them? Yes, that’s part of it.

Realization 3: These two worries–that I’m neglecting my work and that I might not be able to write down an idea/might lose that idea and so I should wait until I have a specific time set aside for nonfiction reading–are masking the real worry. I don’t know if I’m a good writer or if I will succeed at writing or if my ideas are any good or if I have the craft to pull off the ideas that I’ve got written down on notepads or index cards or Post-It Notes or on my phone.

There’s my problem right there.

Now what?

First, I acknowledged that I am not going to be doing much reading during the day until I catch up on my edits, both for CGP and for Cold Run, as well as my submissions reading. Okay. I accept that, and if it means I won’t be reading during the day, then so be it. After I catch up, afternoon reading will start happening again.

Second, I accept that sometimes I might lose an idea. But, more likely, I won’t because I always have a notebook, index card, phone, receipt, junk mail envelope, whatever, close at hand. If reading sparks a creative insight, I will welcome that.

Third, yes, I’m behind. So I haven’t been able to work on writing like I think I should be able to. But I’ve still been writing–class assignments, blog posts, etc. And my subconscious is still churning away. Yesterday’s shower sparked an entire outline for a valkyrie story. Cool.

Fourth, yeah, I’m definitely afraid that I suck at writing, OR that I’ll suck at my future writing. I’ve had people who don’t know me, and don’t have any vested interested in pretending to like me or my writing, review my stuff positively, so objectively I know that there is something there. But that little voice at the back of my head who loves to wallow in some impostor syndrome will NOT SHUT UP.

Onward!

Today, I’m going to finish up this blog post, work on this pot of coffee I’ve started, maybe use a shiny rock as a fidget tool, and get this print master over to the formatter. After that, perhaps I will crack a book and read while I work on a knitting project for the weekend farmer’s market. And then — bake a cake for my youngest’s birthday and remind myself of why I enjoy working from home, and that things will, eventually get better.

As I hope they do for you!

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