Once Upon a Time I Was a Reader

I always had a book with me growing up. Any free time at school was filled by reading. Even in high school, I would rush to my next class to spend the extra transition time reading. I read while I watched TV. If I was into a book, I would stay up until 3 A.M. because it would be impossible to put it down. While in college my pleasure reading was diminished, but I at least always had a book I was reading that was not for a class.

This continued into adulthood, but somewhere in the last couple of years, it has changed.

I have lost my reading fervor. I can’t tell you the last time that I was preoccupied with a book to the point that I would pull it out at every possible moment. I don’t feel drawn in like I use to. I have a stack of books and electronic books in my Amazon account that I start and stop and start again, unable to connect enough to the story to make picking it up after the kids are in bed worth the energy. Plus, there is no staying awake no matter how interesting the story is. I borrowed The Maze Runner electronically from the library. It is definitely a page turner, fast-paced with a good mystery at its heart. It was automatically returned yesterday. I was only halfway through. In two weeks, I could only read half of a teen book. I am now 24th on the waiting list. If this happened when I was 14 or 15 or even 20, I would have had to buy it. Now? I can wait.

And I just keep asking myself why?

I think partly it is there is so much more to fill up my brain than there use to be. There just isn’t room for the preoccupation of a current story. And my passion has gone to other things that require all my energy and attention. In my youth, I had so little responsibility and demands on my time, my mind could live with fictional characters at great length with no detriment to my real life interactions. Plus? I was not popular. If I didn’t have a band thing or a Shakespeare Troupe thing, I didn’t have a thing. Fictional characters did not judge me based on the height of my bangs or the label on my jeans. I could pretend that Mr. Darcy would totally find me pleasurable to look at even if high school boys thought I looked like their kid sisters. Characters didn’t know about my parents’ divorce and the awkward situations my friends might see if they came over. And as a young adult, I had a long commute and evenings in an apartment that needed very little attention with a dog who just loved to curl up. Now? None of those things are part of my life anymore. My time and even my thoughts are hardly ever my own. My real life is now worthy of all of my time and passion. Which is wonderful. I love my real life.

But I know my story passion is still there as I do get enthralled in audiobooks. When I can get into the story while doing other things like driving, work-outing, cooking, or cleaning, it is easier. Motherhood thy name is multi-tasking.

But I miss the printed word. I miss giving the characters my own voice. I miss curling up and not multi-tasking, giving something my attention for no other reason than it pleases me.

Ultimately, it comes down to this…. Dance of Dragons bored me to the point that I haven’t even finished it.

I think the world of reading, for me, has been forever dulled.

Well, maybe not forever.

If Tyrion rides a dragon to The Wall, stopping by King’s Landing to turn Cersei into ash along the way, my pilot light might be re-set.

When and Where

I recently join the Bannerwing Write Club. It has become a great source of inspiration, commiseration, and celebration when it comes to my writing. We decided it would be fun and challenging to do a round robin story. I am starting it here today, and several other bloggers will be continuing it and finally ending it over the next couple of weeks. None of us have any idea where the next person will take it. Next week you can catch the continuation of When and Where on the blog of the one and only Angela Amman, who, I am sure, will put me to shame. 

The crunch of the gravel under her feet was deafening. Even the pebbles were screaming at her to turn around. Yet her flashlight beam continued to play across the path in front of her, and she followed. Every few steps she would sweep the beam to the right and then the left, reading each name, stopping when the age of the carvings made them hard to decipher.

“Robin, don’t do this. It isn’t necessary,” Paul appeared at her left shoulder.

“Paul’s right. Please, you can turn around, get in the car, and go,” Phoebe added from her right.

Robin squared her shoulders as she checked another tombstone. “No. It’s time. I can’t put it off forever. Better sooner than later.”

“You’re not ready.”

“Says you.”

“Says me who has a century more knowledge and experience than you.”

Robin glanced at Paul. “Is it really experience if it happens after you are dead?”

Paul scowled. “Semantics? Really? ”

Phoebe snorted and said, “That’s Robin. Arguing the minutiae of death when her life is in the balance.”

Robin’s jaw tightened, but she didn’t say anything. The twins may have seen more in their afterlife than she had in her physical life to date, but she knew her own power and limits. Fate was leading her and follow she must. She just wished it didn’t scare her so much. It was taking actual mental effort to keep her hand from shaking and bouncing her light all over the place.

The flashlight played over another grave marker, covered in water stains and lichen. She couldn’t make out the name, but her gut told her it wasn’t the right one. Reading the names was probably a useless gesture. The one she sought would make its presence known when she found it.

Paul said, “If you are going to insist, at least wait another week or two. We can be better prepared, study the manuscript more closely. Gather more information.”

Robin stopped and turned to look at Paul. “You have been waiting for this for a hundred and fourteen years. I would think you would be more anxious.”

“Those years have taught me patience and caution. I can wait another few weeks to insure that you are truly ready for this confrontation. If you aren’t then all those decades are for naught.”

They held each other’s eyes for a long moment. Quietly, Robin replied, “I understand the gravity and the consequences of my actions. But I also know that waiting any longer will drive me mad. I am filled to the brim. If I don’t release this power at the appointed target, I will burn out in a matter of days if not hours.” She paused and stepped closer to him. “Please, Paul.” Phoebe moved to face her brother as well, now making a united front with Robin.

Paul sighed. “Very well. When we find it, you must promise to listen to my instructions exactly. Everything must be precise. It will be the only way to direct the storm you are holding inside.”

Robin went back to crunching the gravel and sweeping the light beam back and forth, path to stone, stone to path. Read. Move on. They came to a cross path. Robin closed her eyes and let her arms drop to her side. Her left hand, the one holding the flashlight, rose and pointed down the left path. She turned and walked that way for another twenty yards. Abruptly, she stopped. The beam scanned the stones around her as she read.

Finally, it came to rest on a very old one. It was brownstone, squat and heavy, like a malicious toad guarding its treasure.

“There you are, you bastard,” Robin whispered.