I was an avid reader (note the “was”?) a long time ago, perhaps about ten to fifteen years back.
People who have met me since then may be shocked at the past tense and may want to argue on it, but if you knew me when I was still in my school, literally burning the bathroom light at 1 AM to try and finish a book, you would agree with the tense usage.
The reduction in both quality and quantity of books I read directly correlated with my social life (or the appearance of one during college). And as I pretended to be too busy to read, I found myself stuck with books I considered an “easy read”, which translated into “books that do not require me to think at all”. And as I got used to these books, I began to get lazy and found myself buying them by the dozen and devouring them.
The expected outcome of course is that while I have read a lot these last ten years, I am definitely not well-read. The result of such poor taste in reading is now reflected in my writing; times were when I was proud of what I had penned down, now, I cringe most of the time when I re-read any articles or poetry I may have written.
As a friend put it to me last month, ” What the hell happened to you? You used to write so well!”
She has been the only honest critic so far of my work, perhaps that is because she actually used to read stuff I wrote back at school when we were angsty teens trying to vent our frustrations through the written word. On reflection, I think she was still polite in her review, I would have brought out the bricks and bats and given her a sound trashing if our positions were reversed.
The biggest problem still remains, time. I blame my busy schedule for anything and everything, so much so that if I stop breathing one fine day, I would most probably say it was because I was too busy working to remember to take a breath in. Her reviews of the short-stories she has been reading made me wish for more time. And then I realised that my biggest problem is not lack of time, it is laziness. I have gotten too lazy to read anymore, which is why I settle for articles and books that I would prefer to consign to the back of my bookshelves and never look at a second time.
I have decided to try and get out of this rut I have got into and what better time to start than right away. I am picking up a John Steinbeck that I had bought a year ago today and will start reading. I will be rejoicing in going back home after ten long years for home is where my heart was all these years. I just went wandering and now am looking forward to putting my legs up in front of a hearth and reading my heart out.