2017 Has Been a Slump

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been in this big of a reading slump. At least not that I can remember.

I’ve started and stopped probably close to 10 books this year. Which might not seem like a lot, but that’s only because I haven’t actually been reading enough to DNF more. In 2016, I think I read a total of around 70 books. We are 8 months into 2017 and if I’m lucky, I’ve finished 20.

To be fair, from April until December of last year, I had a lot more time on my hands. Starting in January of this year, not only did I start working, but I started a job that involves an hour commute each way. So that’s taking up a good chunk of time.

But even when I do have time to read, I don’t. I normally set aside an hour before bed each night to pick up a book. For most of 2017 that hour has felt like a chore. I at one point was forcing myself to continue doing it, but now I’ve just stopped.

My weekends usually involved sitting and reading a book for at least an entire afternoon. And now they don’t.

And I don’t think it’s the books. I 100% think it’s me. I just can’t get into the mindset I normally have with books. I can’t lose myself long enough to get wrapped in whatever world I’m reading about. I’m finding it easier to give in and watch YouTube videos than to push my way through a book.

Not only is this annoying on a recreational reading level, but it also means my book reviews have suffered. Can’t really do a review if I haven’t read any books!

There really isn’t a point to this post, other to let you guys know what’s going on in my head. And why there’s more writing on here instead of reviews. Eventually that will change. I hope. I’ll aim for a healthy 50/50 balance at some point.

On the plus side, my wallet is happy because I’ve also been spending less on books! I’m utilizing the library instead since I can’t guarantee that I’ll make it through any of the books. Silver linings, always.

-M

Confession Time

I haven’t actually sat (for some reason, my brain really wanted to put sitten here) down and written for awhile. Sitten/written, I now understand why my brain chose that word.

I’ve had that weird finger tingly, adrenaline pumping, I-need-to-write feeling for awhile now. Writing constipation, in other words. The only way to release this feeling is to poop out the words onto a piece of paper or screen.

But I have no done that.

And I was questioning why I have not done it, when I came to a realization.

Fear. Fear is holding me back.

Not fear of failure, or even fear of success, but fear of letting someone see what goes on in my head. Fear of letting those thoughts out and someone judging me for them. Fear of realizing that I might just be that crazy. Maybe even a fear that I’m not messed up at all, and therefore not the individual I thought I was.

Even if no one ever reads the words I put down, it’s the possibility that they could that scares the crap out of me. I’ve never quite realized how absolutely vulnerable writers, and artists in general, have to be in order to put their work out into the world.

You have to be willing to put your heart and soul out there for someone else to judge, interpret, comment on.

So I sat on this. And I thought. And I thought some more. And then I thought about how utterly stupid that was. Fear is healthy, but it’s also stopping me from doing the thing I most want to do in the world. And why should I let one emotion rule my life?

I’m going to hold myself accountable somehow. I need to. I should. Not for anyone else, but for me.

I’ll update this post with how I decide to do it, but it’ll happen. I may even make it interactive so others can follow along too. Keep each other accountable and what not.

-M

In My Head

I’m struggling with some things at the moment. As much as talking to other people helps a bit, writing has always been my outlet. So below you’ll find a piece that I wrote this morning when I woke up. It’s short, but it expresses (generally) how I feel when I’m in one of these “moods”.


I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in someone else’s head.

Not to have them explain it to me, but to actually be in there. Watching through their eyes as they go about their day to day life, aware of their thoughts and feelings but knowing that they are separate from mine.

I feel like that sometimes in my own head, but I know that the person acting and the person thinking are the same. Two separate entities, but also the same entity. An outside me and an inside me.

Sometimes they act as one whole person and everything is right with the world.

Sometimes I’m the inside me sitting back and watching the outside me interact with the world. I’m aware of what is going on, but I can also tune out while the outside me continues to function. I don’t feel the world the same. I don’t see the world the same.

I know they are both me. What I don’t know is why the split. What I don’t know is the cause, or the reason they decide to join back up.

My fear is that one day they won’t, and I’ll be stuck as the two versions of the same person, slightly broken, inhabiting the same body. And there won’t be a thing I can do.


The ironic part of this piece is that this is a glimpse into my head.

-M

By Gaslight

By Gaslight by Steven Price
Published by McClelland & Stewart on August 23rd 2016
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 731
Goodreads

London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men's futures -- a man of smoke. William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London in search of her; what he learns of her fate, and its connection to the man known as Shade, will force him to confront a grief he thought long-buried. What follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and seance halls. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.

I dnf’d it.

If you’re wondering, earlier this month (last week? Time is a thing I can no longer keep track of) I didn’t know if I should continue By Gaslight or not.

Reasoning: pacing was slow, writing style (no quotations and a TON of run on sentences) were annoying the poop out of me.

Funny thing is, I actually continued reading it after I posted. I’d rented it from the library, so why not?

A couple of days before it was set to go back from the library, I went to renew it online and found out I couldn’t. I looked at the book, looked back at the notice saying I couldn’t renew it, looked at how many pages I had left, and then flipped to the end of the book and read the ending.

It seemed like an okay book, but again, had it been half the length, it probably would have been much better.

Oh well. Moving on.

The Psychopath Test

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
on May 1st 2011
Genres: non-fiction
Pages: 288
Goodreads

In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them.

The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath.

Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.

I’m not usually a non-fiction reader, but I love anything that has to do with the human brain. I love when people try to analyze the way people tick. It’s just so fascinating to me.

I think I originally saw this book on someone’s YouTube channel (don’t remember who, sadly) and I immediately marked it as a to-read. But because it’s a nonfic, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to buy it. And then a couple of weeks ago I refound my love for my local library and they had The Psychopath Test. Score!

Although this book doesn’t delve too deeply into exactly why psychopaths are the way they are, it was interesting to see the different thought patterns behind labeling someone a psychopath. And reading the reactions of those who are labelled that way. It was a very surface level dig into the madness industry, but it was incredibly fascinating. Especially if you don’t know all the lingo, as it doesn’t take too much outside knowledge to understand.

If you want a light, fun read about what possibly makes a psychopath a psychopath, definitely give this a try. If you’re looking for a book to tell you whether or not you’re a psychopath, this isn’t it.

And if you are looking for something to tell you whether you are or aren’t one, chances are you aren’t. If you were, you wouldn’t care. This was pointed out in the book and made me laugh.

“But isn’t Tony kind of a semi-psychopath? A gray area? Doesn’t his story prove that people in the middle shouldn’t necessarily be defined by their maddest edges?

To DNF or Not to DNF

At what point in a book do you decide to close it and put it down for good?

I am having issues with this question right now. I don’t know at what point I should stop trudging through a book.

Here’s the scenario. I’m reading By Gaslight, which I was so excited to read when it first came out. I will admit, mostly because of the cover. But the premise sounded fantastic as well. It’s set in Victorian London and I’m a sucker for some good historical fiction.

There are a couple of things that bother me.

  1. The pacing is slow AF. By Gaslight taps out at 600 pages and it could easily be half that while still retaining 90% of the story, in my opinion. I think it’s so long because there’s two narrators (so far) and there’s a lot of flashbacks.
  2. THERE ARE NO QUOTATION MARKS. Why is this a style?? I find it hard to figure out who is talking sometimes. I especially find it hard to figure out which portions are talking portions and which are internal monologue portions since both can be in one sentence. It may not seem like a huge problem, but it irks me. And it means I have to reread some passages.
  3. There are a ton of run on sentences. While this is probably lends itself to the style of Victorian London, the content editor in me is silently screaming.
  4. I’m no longer super invested in what is happening.

Despite all of the above, a part of me is still curious as to where it goes. I may not be invested in the characters, but I still find myself wondering what happens next. I’m standing alongside Pinkerton or Foole and experiencing things as they are; finding out pieces of the puzzle as they do. It’s a slow burn, but I don’t know if it’ll be a good pay off at the end.

Is this just me being very impatient? Should I wait it out? I have no idea.

Let me know how you decide to DNF things!

-M

Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Published by Vintage Classics on January 1st 1970
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 177
Goodreads

Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller - these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

Oh man. I don’t know, entirely, what I was expecting when I went into Slaughterhouse 5. I can’t quite tell you if I had any expectations whatsoever.

What I came out of with, though, was a great appreciation for Mr. Vonnegut. Man, can he write. I’ve never read something so pointless and so entertaining all at once.

But, I gather that’s the point.

I love that there is no backstory, no trying to explain events, no fluff. You’re simply reading about a man who comes unstuck in time. You don’t even question it, because…well, I’m not entirely sure why. Just because. Because that’s the way it was written and don’t try to go figuring it out. Just enjoy the ride while you’re on it.

It was a great departure for me. I tend to read a lot of fantasy, where half the book is spent explaining the who and the what of a scenario, so you can understand everything that is going on. Sometimes I don’t need to know all that. It just needs to be written in a way that allows me to lean in and enjoy it.

It’s also helped me realize that there are great novels out there like this. When I write, I don’t explain a lot of my backstory. It just is. It’s good to know it can work that way.

I will read more Vonnegut.

Poo-tee-weet.

 

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This Is Not a Test

This is, in fact, a slump.

A reading slump. A writing slump. A motivation slump.

The warm weather has hit and I find myself less and less inclined to be in the house. Which is understandable. But it also means I spend far less time at my computer, or with my nose stuck in a book. And that kind of sucks when you actually want to blog. Or actually want to read. But the warm weather, it calls.

I have a feeling, that in about two months or so, I’ll have plenty of time to write. And plenty of time to read. So, you can probably expect the posts to pick up after that. Hopefully. We’ll see. I stopped making promises long ago.

But for now, enjoy this tiny poem.


In the end,

There is me

And only me.

The rest

You can not prove

Is real.

The others

You can not prove

Exist.

How can I believe you

When not even you are real.

When not even I exist.

-M

Rain Drops

Fiction is as fiction does. The below is an unedited piece of work. I simply sat down at the computer and wrote.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I listen to the rain falling on the roof. The little drops, if singular amounting to nothing, but in droves forcing us inside like they might somehow kill us. I take a drag of my cigarette.

I’m staring at the popcorn ceiling of my apartment, not entirely sure why I am doing so. I went to sleep easily enough. I awoke easily enough. It’s the why of the waking I wonder about. My breasts lay bared to the world, one leg wrapped in the cotton sheet, the other leg sprawled across the bed like it’s trying its hardest to escape from this mess. The moon highlights the tiny hairs I missed shaving.

I take another drag of my cigarette. I breathe the smoke out, watch it float slowly towards the ceiling. At this time of night, everything is fascinating. The smoke, the pitter-patter of the rain, the number of popcorn pieces on the ceiling. Life. Death. Love. Everything.

I’m the only person that exists right now, even though I’m not, and I find this isolation absolutely thrilling. To be, at once, the whole world and completely removed from the world is strange and delirious. I am the only one that matters to me, but to no one outside of this room.

The night has made me drunk. Or stoned. Perhaps a little bit of both. I smile to myself, at peace. Maybe this is the reason it is called the witching hour. It’s bewitching to anyone who happens to pay attention. To those fortunate enough to awake in its presence.

I sigh, lean over and drop the rest of the cigarette into the glass of water on my table. I could get up and do some writing. I could get up and read a book. I should roll over and go back to sleep.

Instead, I lay back against my pillow. I stare at the popcorn ceiling. I listen to the rain falling on the roof.

Jackaby

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 16th 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 299
Goodreads

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

A lot of people describe Jackaby as a sort of Sherlock….and they have every right to.

If Sherlock hunted the Supernatural, his name would definitely be R.F Jackaby.

I love how we’re showed the world through Abigail Rook, who at the beginning of the book has no idea who Jackaby is. She simply needs a job and he has a posting for an assistant. It made the story more interesting for me, because there was never any info dumping about the world and its supernatural elements. You simply find out about things as she does, which made me connect with her confusion more, but 100% in a good way.

It also made Jackaby more mysterious, sometimes frustrating, but always enjoyable to have on the page and in the story. While some might think he’s cocky or obnoxious, I liked his personality. He sees things that no one else can, so he has very little time to explain things to people. It’s a very easy way to only keep the “important” people around, in my opinion. He doesn’t have to hide himself or spend hours explaining things to people who choose not to believe what he sees. Call me crazy, but I like it. He also has a wicked sense of humour without meaning to.

The case itself was okay. Nothing mindblowing, but it kept me guessing. I’m interested to see if book numero two gets any more thrilling.

Yes, I already bought it. Have you seen those covers?? They’re just too pretty not to have.

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