In my most recent post, I wrote about my frustration with promotion and marketing and how it had taken a big bite out of the joy of writing. I gave myself permission to ignore that aspect of my life for the time being.
While that decision gave me a sense of relief, it did not, as I expected, allow me to plunge myself blissfully into those activities I had given up. Routines are difficult to break and I found myself staring at my keyboard, playing solitaire, and generally wasting time or frittering it away with activities that gave me none of the pleasure I had looked forward to.
Something prevented me from diving into enjoying those books I wanted so much to read. Was it guilt? Inertia? Had I forgotten how to enjoy reading just for pleasure? The reading I had done over the last several years had all been for more altruistic reasons. I owed someone a review. I helped a writer friend by beta-reading a new opus. I read to learn something writing-related. You get the picture. I did not read purely for pleasure.
That changed a week ago when hubby and I were unexpectedly called to babysitting duty. Number one grandson was enrolled in one half-day and one full day of preschool. So, with cooking and cleaning done and having limited access to a computer, I opened my Kindle and immersed myself in the reading I had been putting off for a long time. There were plenty of choices, books I had downloaded over time, intending to enjoy them.
So, with nothing better to do, I looked at my list of books, picked one, put up my feet, shut the rest of the world out, and, dare I say it – read – for pleasure. In the two days we stayed there I read three books. They were short, it’s true, but I finished all three. No guilt. One of them was so engrossing I kept it open and jumped up only when I had to turn on the oven or attend to some other minor interruption.
THREE BOOKS! In the past I might read three in a whole year. It was bliss. I finally reconnected with that feeling of escaping into another world, of not needing to attend to any “shoulds”, of the joy I’d known before my writing days when a good book had no strings attached. Oh, the freedom.
A side benefit has been that I am once more aware of what led me to be a writer. I realize I had/have stories to tell, stories that may bring the same pleasure to others as some of the ones I have read brought to me. It reinforces my earlier decision to let go of the need to push promotion. I never expected to get rich with my writing. Now I can focus again on writing just to give pleasure to others.
Yes, I understand that I need to find readers to accomplish that goal. It just isn’t the bottom line any more. Writing is.
Now, I have three reviews to write, because, in spite of it all, I still want to do for those authors, whose books I have enjoyed, what I hope my readers will do for me. Hey, it’s not ALL fun and games.
40 thoughts on “Rediscovering the Joy of Reading”
Oh I could so realate to all that 🙂
You’re not alone, Lucinda. It’s something a lot of us struggle with.
I’ve been struggling with reading for pleasure as well, just recently almost all of my reading as been for reviews for my blog, to help me learn something to improve my writing or my marketing/promotion efforts, or for some other reason. Rarely have I been able to sit down and read more than a chapter a day, though I’d like to.
I hear you, Alex. Yet, it’s something I think we need to get back to to “fill us up” again, as it were.
True, I’m looking forward to clearing up a backlog of work so I have more time for pleasure, then I’m hoping to do some major reading.
That’s interesting, Yvonne. I went through a similar period some years ago, found myself editing everything I read and not enjoying any of it. I was beginning to wonder if I had gotten so jaded that no story could spark any emotion from me, but then got a hold of a wonderful book that transported me, just like they used to. Yea, it wasn’t me! Now I know that, even if the majority of books I read don’t exactly inspire me, some will, so I stay open to that. Good for you for using your down time to reconnect.
Yes, that impulse to edit and critique is there for us writers. But it feels good to know there are still good stories out there that we can be drawn into, isn’t it?
Every once in a while, I give myself permission to forget all my “have to do’s” and read for pleasure. It is a wonderful escape.
Good for you. We need to do more of that – for sanity’s sake. 🙂
It’s so true Yvonne.
Before I began writing, I’d read well over a hundred books per year. Now I’m so involved in my writing and in promoting my books, that I hardly ever find the time to sit down and read……and I’ve always enjoyed reading.
I’ve come to admire someone who can juggle both.
As have I. It’s tough to do. Thanks for coming by.
I used to be able to read a book in a day if I was really into it, been on the same book for a month now and only 25% done, and it’s a book I’ve read and enjoyed before.
Oh, that’s sad. I hope you find a way yo enjoy it again like you used to.
Thanks, me too. I used to love my reputation as a bookworm who was always reading something.
Due to eye issues and migraines, I don’t read half as much as I used to. I averaged about 30 books a year; now, I’m lucky to read 12. I don’t review books the way I did before, either, for fear of being banned on Amazon because I might know the author. Nothing feels the same to me as it once did, especially the marketing process. Far fewer options…
These changes have robbed me of my joy for writing and reading. I don’t care as much anymore. It’s tiring fighting the current while constantly swimming upstream. I think many of us had higher hopes when we started on our indie-author journeys, but now, those hopes have dwindled.
I’d like to rekindle the excitement I first had, the ambition that drove me–but I find I can’t muster the energy…at least for the time being.
No wonder you’d rather play Solitaire, Yvonne!
I’m so sorry you’ve lost the passion. I sincerely hope you find it back – or are OK with giving it up. That limbo in between can be stifling.
I completely understand where you’re coming from – having been there myself, and I found it such a struggle to make time for reading – and remind myself I wasn’t wasting time. and I feel for others who talk about their sense of loss in the joy of reading, and in being an indie writer. It is a tough life we’ve chosen, and not always easy to make the best use of our energy and time.
So true. I didn’t even mention the thought that when I’m reading I’m not wasting time. Thanks for adding that.
As the author of several not-so-well selling self-published books I can certainly relate to your frustrations with promoting and marketing.
Steven King’s advice to aspiring writers is “Read, read, read,” and that’s what I do with much of my spare time. The Kindle has revolutionized my reading agenda. Where I used to read perhaps five to ten books a year, I now read forty to fifty. Since the Kindle has a text to speech function, I listen to novels while I exercise on my tread climber or if I go to the gym. This has motivated a three fold increase in my exercise time. I also listen to books on long drives and on long walks in my neighborhood.
Wow. It looks like you have managed to embrace the challenges of technology and use them to your advantage. Cool.
Lovely post, Yvonne. I often wish I could get in a time machine and go back to the days before I’d written a word of fiction, when I enjoyed and was transported away from my life by others’ brilliant storytelling. But I think it’s so difficult to let go when one has studied the mechanics of the craft; the temptation to understand how the storyteller is guiding us is simply too great!
So true, Chris. I find I no longer finish books I previously might have because the poor writing has become intolerable. On the other hand, i have discovered some wonderful Indie authors who do a great job, too. Even, then, though, I find myself thinking I would have written a particular scene differently. The question I ask myself, in those instances, is whether my reactions are valid.
I’m in the throes of promotion right now and it’s ruling my life. I have met some very interesting new people on Twitter as a result of my marketing attemtps, but I already miss not being able to shut the world out and diving into a story. So glad you’re creativity has been refreshed, coz that’s what it’s all about. -hugs-
Gah …you’re = your. 🙁
Thank you and I hope your efforts yield good results. Then, that you can get make to the fun stuff. 🙂
Reading is how I learned to write, and enjoying a good book is a great way to recharge my batteries (and get good ideas) to send be back to writing my own stuff again.
So, in spite of all the deserving books I am offered to review, I leave some time in the schedule for a book I choose myself, and review that. After I have thoroughly devoured it 🙂
Finding that balance isn’t easy. Congrats on finding yours.
Here at year’s end I’m reading for pleasure, devouring books at a pace I hope to keep well into next year. Imagine finding a series you love with the first five books already out, and only one more to go that the author will publish next year! That happened to me this year (which is a huge deal if, like me, you prefer to live in the slow lane.) I hope you continue to derive much pleasure in the coming year, both reading and writing.
That’s great, Candace. I know the thrill of finding a great series, too. Before I began writing they used to be my preference.
This resonated so much with me. I used to read over 100 books a year, and reviewed every one. Since writing has become a big part of my life, it’s under half that. But travelling is when I catch up. A three week trip to Australia allowed me to read 12 books (long-haul flights and Kindles are a perfect combination), and a recent long weekend by train gave me the chance to read 3 books completely and finish another that had been set aside for lack of time.
So my plan for 2017 is – lots more holidays. 🙂
A trip to Australia AND lots of time to read. That must have been heaven. 🙂
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when you can’t go back and edit your comment in these posts? LOL
Thank you for the pleasent article on reading and reconnecting with the reader. I try to read at least one classic and one modern book a year. Recently, I have started one of your books.
Thank you, Joe. I do hope you like it. When it’s “one a year” that’s even more important.
Wow, I can relate to everything you said and am also guilty of solitaire time-wasting! I read a ton of news items and articles but feel pangs of pain when I look at the stacks of unread books in my shelf. My kindle collection is enormous, and though I do read some of them some of the time, I absolutely miss the feeling of being lost for hours in a good story. I will make a determined effort to get back into the reading habit, and hope the awful addiction to news, that got out of control during the draining election period, can be reduced to its original dimension.
Grin. I think we must be twins, Esther. I hope this will give you the push you need to get back to your reading list.
I’m doing better lately. I’m striking back against all the newsy stuff that’s so depressing and even debilitating. My mom used to read four books a week and we all had the habit—I can’t understand how it could have deteriorated since I became an author… makes one wonder!
Makes me wonder, too. I’m glad you’re making it back.
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