Why I Haven’t Been Reading (2)

I have an excuse. I have many excuses. Some may say I am full of nothing but excuses.

As some of you know, many of you may not, November is NaNoWriMo. Or National Novel Writing MonthFor those of us crazy enough to give up sleep and a social life for 30 days, this is a chance to buckle down and prove to everyone that will listen that you a writer can indeed spit out 50,000 words in a short amount of time.

Anyone that has talked to me at length this month has been told about this book I am writing. This child I am birthing. This thing that I am banging against the walls in the hopes that PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET YOURSELF ONTO THE DAMN PAGE.

For ages I’ve been a hardcore panster. That is, to say, I don’t plan what I write. I just write. The muse and I sit down over some coffee and we talk. It weaves a story, I dictate it as fast as my fingers will carry.

The issue with this being that sometimes I’ve given the muse too much coffee and it’s walked off to ramble by itself in the corner and I’m left staring at a blank page.

All of this to say that I haven’t been reading this month because I’ve been writing instead.

I am sleep deprived. I am slightly incoherent at this point.

But, on the plus side, I’ve written 24,000 words which is more than I’ve ever written on one project. Ever.

I mean, it’s not 50,000. But it’s a damn fine start.

Series Binge 2018

Yes yes. I am aware it’s the end of April at this point. But I organized my bookshelf on Sunday and had a super-stupendous idea.

The Challenge

For the remainder of 2018, I’m only going to focus on reading the series I have on my shelves already. By proxy, this means I’m only allowing myself to buy books that pertain to the CURRENT series’ I have.

Exception: my birthday. I get a pass for my birthday. Don’t argue with me. I’m literally making the rules.

The Reason

Apparently most of my reading interests fall in the land of series. But I have a habit of reading the first one, getting sidetracked by several other hundred books, forgetting what happened in the first book, and finding myself not as pulled to the series again. Even if I loved the first book.

I’m going to combat this by reading series’ in full. It started with my binge of the Fever series. I owned the first two, had only read the first, and watched as they sat on my shelf. I wanted to pick up the second one but I couldn’t remember what happened in the first. I’m not a huge fan of rereading, especially for every single series I own.

I have a handful of series that I want to read that I’ve just put off, but I’m changing that this year. No more shiny new books capturing my attention and distracting me. No more excuses for not remembering the first book. No more excuses period.

The Issue

I know that some of the series I’m really looking forward to aren’t finished yet. I don’t want to skip these, so I’m okay reading up to the currently published book. I’m hoping that if I read more than one book in the series (assuming there’s currently more than one) will help me with the forgetting issue.

The Caveat

I am aware series burnout is a thing. If this happens, which I hope it doesn’t, I am allowed to take a small break. I do have a couple of single books on my shelf that I can use to break up my binges.

The Outcome

I’m hoping this makes me feel 1) less guilty about buying new books if I’ve already read most of my current books, 2) helps clear my shelves off a bit, and 3) stops me from buying alllll the books in a series so they’ll match while only having read the first.

Alright, that’s the challenge. Join in if you want!

Why I Haven’t Been Reading (1)

I haven’t done one of these in forever! It feels like a good way to break up the Fever series reviews that are going to be coming up since I’ve been binging it for the past month now. Which I am not apologizing for, it’s been fun.

Any who, during the week I have a limited amount of time to do things after work. Over the past little bit, I’ve been trying to prioritize what I want to do with that time so I can accomplish the things that I actually want to. I was spending an obscene amount of time on good ol’ YouTube, which was accomplishing exactly 0% of my goals. Although my makeup game is strong now.

When it came down to my top two favourite things to do, reading and writing, I realized that writing was more important to me. Yes, I LOVE reading other people’s worlds and characters. But one day I want someone to say that they love my world and characters. And the only way for this to happen is for me to prioritize writing over everything else. Except sleep, sleep is always my first priority.

What this means is that during the week, I’ve been setting aside most of my nights for working on my novel. I’ve loved this routine, as it seems to have kicked my creativity into gear. I’m still on YouTube a bit, but that’s mostly for watching different authors talking about their writing style. It also means that reading has taken a bit of a back seat, which is okay for now. It hasn’t completely fallen off, which is good!

It’s been an interesting shift in priority, but I’m excited to see what becomes of it.

What have you been doing instead of reading?

2018 Resolutions

Happy 2018, y’all!

I rang 2018 in curled up in bed, with my cat, finishing up a book, and thinking about how I want this year to go. As everyone is likely doing, I’ve made some resolutions. But because I ended 2017 reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, my resolutions for this year are a little different. (Review coming soon on the book. Spoiler: Go get it, it’ll change your outlook.)

These aren’t all necessarily book related, but some of them cover both books and my life in general. And as Gretchen says, the difference between resolutions and goals is that these aren’t an end destination. Resolutions are things I’m looking at incorporating into my life. So, here goes.

  1. Forgive myself more. This one applies to both books and life. In 2017, I read about a third of what I did in 2016 and I felt terrible about it to begin with. But I realized it’s not a race and the only one putting pressure on myself is me. So, I’d like to work on forgiving myself for things that I shouldn’t be harping on myself for in the first place.
  2. Read what I want. In both 2016 and 2017 I found the vast network that is booktube and fell down a nice little rabbit hole. I started to buy books that I never would have picked up just by myself. This has been both a good and a bad thing. I’ve read some amazing books that I otherwise would have never found, but it also means that I got caught up in reading what other people thought were good books and not necessarily what thought I’d like to read.
  3. Cull often. This plays off #2. I’ve got a ton of books on my shelves that I’m likely never going to read because I bought them in that booktube whirlwind. Why keep them? Someone else can enjoy them. This is also a little more broad. Why keep clothes I don’t wear? Cull those. Activities I spend time on that I don’t really like? Take them out of the calendar. People I don’t really want to spend time with? Well, maybe don’t cull them out completely. But I’ll make more time for the people that I truly care about. (Is there a way to word that without sounding like a bitch?)
  4. Stop making excuses. Ohhhh boy, this will be a hard one. I’ve always been one of those people who makes excuses not to do something because I’m too lazy to do it. Example: I should go to the gym today, but I went Monday, so I can skip today and I’ll just go next week. No, no Mackenzie. You do the things you said you’d do now. The only person losing out is me when I make these excuses.
  5. Live in my passions. Funny enough, this is also a part of #4. If you asked my two top passions, I’d answer in a heartbeat: reading and writing. If you asked me how often I do both of these activities, I’d stutter out a soft “uhhh” followed by an excuse. If these are the things I love doing, why am I not doing them more often? Fear of failure is one of my biggest excuses for not writing more. But who cares? I can write without a book ever seeing the light of day and I’d still love writing a book. Or having a book written, I doubt any writer really loves the torture that is the process of writing a book. My excuse for not reading as much as I like is either because I’m too tired to put forth the mental energy, or because I’ve gotten caught up in reading a book I’m not really that interested in. This is something I’d desperately like to change. There’s too many books out there that I want to read, I shouldn’t be wasting my time on books that I’m only half interested in.
  6. Be happy. This is another tidbit I took away from The Happiness Project. Happiness is not something that is found without, you carry it within. For the most part, I am happy. I’m one of those weird cheery people that is usually always smiling. But there’s always room for growth, and there’s always room for more happiness. I’d like to find more within myself.

So, there are my 6 resolutions for this year. Tell me if you made any resolutions for 2018!

-M

Tastes Are Changing

A very wise woman (hi Grandma!) recently had a discussion with me regarding my last post about being in a reading slump, and brought up a very good point.

It’s very possible that the reason I’m in a slump is because my tastes are changing. And if I’m trying to read the same old thing while simultaneously growing away from those topics, it makes sense that they no longer resonate with me!

See, very wise.

This brought up a question for me, though. What do you do when the books/genre you used to rely on so heavily no longer feel comfortable to you? How do you go about finding your new comfort zone?

I honestly have no idea yet, as I’m just starting this journey. But it’s a good question to ask. I’m finding myself more and more drawn to immersive literature – things that I can lose myself in.

I’m less and less attracted to YA. I’m starting to find it very surface deep and I just can’t connect to it in the same way. I want rich characters, thorough plots, heightened emotions. I don’t need everything to be happy at the end. Reality is messy and I’m okay with my fiction being messy as well. (I’m not bashing on YA as a whole, just what I’ve been drawn to in the past.)

So, if you’ve got any recommendations on some good books to check out, leave them below. And if you’ve gone through similar growing pains, let me know!

-M

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

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

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