Coming to terms with my limitations.

I haven’t written a real blog entry in quite some time. I got really caught up in my research for my novel and then I actually started writing it shortly after. Then my writing program started and it’s been crazy, wonderful, and hectic all at the same time. I actually have a deadline and I should be finalizing my manuscript for submission to my writing group, but I’m here instead. I’ve had several blog ideas to write about and jotted them down. I even took notes and pictures, but I just haven’t had the time to post about it all. I don’t like making excuses, but I’m learning that I can’t do everything.

One of the habits I decided to incorporate in my writing life is to read. I committed to one hour a day to reading. I had no problem keeping up with this habit over the summer and easily went over my hour goal frequently. It’s not so easy once school starts and the summer routine has turned into the daily grind of the school routine. I’m lucky if I get even twenty minutes of reading time these days.

Tonight I was looking over my calendar, checking for when my library books were due and saw that I had some due the next day. I had been renewing books, thinking I’d get to them when I could. But by doing so, I was also creating stress for myself to read these books before having to give them up. Most of you will understand this: it pains me to have to return library books unread. It makes me realize that I’ve had the book(s) for three weeks (some even longer) and I did not even get to read them. I did get to skim a few of them, but it’s not the same thing.

Then I started to feel bad that I failed to keep up with one of my writerly routines. I firmly believe that reading is one of the ways to improve one’s skills and if I’m not reading, then I’m not learning. If I’m not learning, then I’m not improving.

This is compounded by the fact that I’ve some how pleased the book gods because books seem to find their way home to me. I was committed to only reading library books or books that I already own. This worked for me for quite some time, but within the last 2-3 months, book opportunities kept presenting themselves to me! If you’ve been following this blog or any of my social media accounts, there have been frequent book haul posts from library books sales, used book stores, and just this past weekend my birthday. But, I wasn’t reading any of these books because I had to read my library books before I had to return them.

It’s the worse kind of booknerd problem to have. Okay. It’s really not bad to have too many books to read, but being in a writing certification program really makes it difficult to keep up with any reading whatsoever. Hence, the stress and the guilt of being surrounded by beautiful covers and pages of adventure and intrigues to get lost in, but not having the time to actually enjoy any of it.

So, with a heavy heart, I’m returning all my library books tomorrow. It really is disappointing because I wanted to read these books, but I’m comforted by the fact that I now own several of the titles now (Yay birthday books!) and I have a running list through my library account of books to check out in the future (My online library account has a list feature! How cool is that?). Instead of feeling disappointed, I’m trying to see it as just one of those times when I have to adapt and adjust to a new schedule. I also can already feel the weight lifting off my shoulders. While I’m in my program, I’ve decided not to check out any more library books. It’ll be hard to stay strong, so I’ll have to keep reminding myself that I have a list I can put it on now.

As far as my reading commitment, I’m still working on that too. I don’t want to go below an hour of reading, but it’s become increasingly difficult trying to find the time since writing has taken priority. In addition to writing, there are the assigned readings and this week we’re supposed to start reading our writing group’s manuscripts to prepare for a critique session the following week. We’ve decided on a ten page writing goal for each workshop. We will workshop three manuscripts each session. It’s pretty intense, but I’m also excited about the opportunity. Finding reading time with this kind of schedule is almost impossible. But, I am considering audio books. I’ve been listening to the Writing Excuses podcasts and I’ve really enjoyed them. I was never interested in audio books because I have to have the words in front of me to get everything. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with an audio book. I’m thinking if I start with a book that I’ve physically read, then try it on audio, this might be a good way to break in to listening to books.

So, farewell library books! Until vacation or when I feel more comfortable with audio books, I’ll read you soon!

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