Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I Cannot Write Right Now and Other Things

Writing drains me. It takes me days and sometimes weeks to sit down and produce a blog post. Then it takes a few more hours, over the course of a few days, to edit. It takes everything from me, and emotionally drains me. I rarely leave any thought untouched. It takes time away from reading and time away from my family. 

I look at all of these books I have waiting for me to read, and I think about what I really want to do most...

I want to read!

Yes, I want to write and discuss, too, but not as much as I want to read. It's difficult enough to find time to read on a daily basis, and book reviews and discussions, in addition, are not a guarantee via a blog. There are already thousands of book bloggers who offer so much more time and book reviews than I do. And since I am not an active blogger, I would rather focus on reading. 

I have definitively cut myself off from all of the reading commitments I made earlier in the year  (except for long term challenges like WEM, The Classics Club), which felt liberating.

Next, I purchased the Bookly app, for encouragement....

And then I started reading...a lot.

The first book I finished was Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. 5/5 stars. Excellent read, well written, and intensely intricate. The complexities of alternating circumstances and emotions kept me involved and expecting. Again, it is typical Hardy, so the ending is crushing; but this one ranks up there with his very best works.

The next book I finished was Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. 4/5 stars. Another well written story by Wharton. When I had the evening to read, I could not wait to open to where I left off to find out what would happen next. This is a very sad and quick novella. By the time I was acquainted with the main characters and their personal stories, tragedy was upon the relationship. The ending is just as quick and devastating. It has stayed with me for weeks.

My next three books are current reads, and they are between 300 and 600+ pages. In other words, they are taking me a long time to finish. 

The first is Here I Stand by Roland Bainton. It is a straightforward biography about Martin Luther. I marvel at how God used Luther to change history and the world. This is my second reading of this book, and I am at the halfway mark.

I am still trekking through Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, for my Well-Educated Mind Reading History Challenge. It is both a burden and enlightening. It is unconscionably long, but also interesting, at times. A great example of Fair and Balanced reporting, for certain. Again, it is a second read for me, and I just started reading part II.

I am a little over halfway through Caroline Fraser's Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This one is difficult to read because Fraser shares some unfavorable truths about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the stories I have come to love so very much. This work does expose her life (as per her stories) as absolute fiction; Fraser also reveals the many complications of Rose Wilder, Laura's only daughter. And I have hardly delved into the political stuff. But it's coming!

Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, I am reading to my kids for no reason other than it has been on our bookshelf for a long time. I should finish it tonight. It is set in the time of the Great Depression, the same time period I am in Prairie Fires. In my opinion, it is not great reading, but it is narrated by the young protagonist; I cannot help but correct his grammar while I read it aloud.

Finally, I am starting this tomorrow, reading with Brona's Books for the Moby-Dick Readalong. I read Moby-Dick in 2012, and I loved the experience. Now I hope to get something more out of it. We only need to read 3-4 chapters a week, and Brona expects us to be done in February 2020. 

You see my copy...I bought this book for 10 cents from my library. It was brand new; no one had touched it. So I took it home and read it for my Well-Educated Mind Novels Reading Challenge. I read it while floating in my pool hour after hour, day after day, all summer. A few times I had to fling it out of the pool because I thought one of my kids was drowning. It was always a false alarm, and I overreacted. Each time my book took a beating, and often it became water logged; but it was the perfect place for reading such a book, after which it found a place in my heart forever. Honestly, I think it is the time period and history of such livelihood that gets me the most.

Now, what does this all mean? It means I will take a break from writing long-winded, soul-emptying blog posts. I have forfeit my smaller challenges, but I will keep reading and maybe have something to say on Goodreads, Instagram, or Facebook. Maybe. As it is, I have written too much, and I must go make dinner and wash breakfast dishes. Yeah, they are still sitting in the sink!


Carol said...

'...long-winded, soul-emptying blog posts,' sorry, you made me laugh. Pity you don't get paid to do it! I think what you've done in this post works well. Short, sharp, & to the point. Maybe that would be the way to go?? Since my little debacle with FB blocking my blog my stats have dropped by about a third which is a bit discouraging. Not much fun when you spend ages working on a book review & it doesn't get read. :)

Ruth said...


I remember that issue w/ FB. Social media is really frustrating b/c we are at their mercy (and all their tricks).

Thinking and writing is so time consuming. I used to do it for myself...but now I see how much time it takes w/o much benefit (like you said...I don't get paid to do it). Today all I want to do is read b/c I am finding that I don't have a lot of time or energy to do that anymore.

And yes, I was thinking I may be able to give a quick response via Goodreads or my other platforms, and that will be sufficient.

At least for now, that is all I can do.

Sharon Wilfong said...

That is strange. Why has Facebook blocked your blog?

Sharon Wilfong said...

Well, Ruth. You're a good write and I will miss your posts. Probably you need a sabbatical, so to speak. Give yourself a break for a while and come back refreshed.

I think God has decided I need a break, too. My eyes have become strained and I am now listening to books because it hurts too much to read.

Michelle Ann said...

I have enjoyed your thoughtful blogs, Ruth. I understand the time limits we all have, and your desire to read more. I don't look at Instagram, Goodreads or Facebook, simply because even reading them takes up too much time. I hope you can perhaps blog occasionally, maybe as Carol suggests, with short summaries? Your blog has introduced me to some very interesting books which I would otherwise not have read.

Silvia said...

Oh... I had just met you and Sharon! But I get it. I've also had years of almost abandoning the blog, others of frantic activity, I make my rules, and sometimes I get caught in them. But by no means, give yourself permission to do what you need and not feel bad about it. We'll always be here.

I read Brona's post today, and I said, "nah, I'm not reading Moby Dick", but now you are making me reconsider, ha ha ha. I read up to half when I abandoned it. And why? I still don't know. Some pages were beautiful beyond compare. I'll let the idea soak a bit, ha ha ha, and see if I do it or not.

Whatever happens, however often you write or not, know that you are appreciated. I always read Carol's blog, and as I said, I had just met you and Sharon.

Take it to Him in prayer, I also wish you luck in your reading/writing/blogging endeavors.

Gently Mad said...

Hi Silvia. I'm not quitting blogging. I'm just listening to books on audio for a while.

Ruth said...

Oh, no! Do you use reading glasses? As my children grow up and become more independent, and as I found more time to read, I was afraid it would coincide with my loss of eyesight (as I have gotten older). So now I wear reading glasses. And as my eyesight gets worse, I worry I may also lose my hearing and will not be able to use audio books. I wonder if I should be learning Braille so that I may still enjoy books. : D

Are you enjoying the audio books?

Ruth said...

Aww, thank you Michelle.

This is true about social media! You are right...and I do not have the time to read everything I want to via Instagram, FB, or Goodreads - although I may use Goodreads for deciding if I want to read a particular book. I've also been using YouTube or BookTube to hear someone else's review of a book, to decide if I should read it. But I do that at the gym, while I'm on a treadmill or stationary bike, so it doesn't take up my reading time. : D

That's great that you were inspired to read books you saw reviewed here. And I think that is the helpful thing about blogging or other social media bc we all teach each other or inspire one another to read something we may not have known about or were intimidated to try. The whole system can be used for good. It certainly helps me make decisions.

I probably will blog lightly about what I've read or on miscellaneous things. But at least for awhile, I don't want to think about it.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sylvia, Thank you for your kind words!!!

I'm not going anywhere, for sure. I'm just not going to write long winded blog least for awhile. Maybe I'll do short remarks, but believe me, they won't be representative of what I really, really think. I have too much to say.

And I will still be visiting other blogs and reading their posts. As I told Michelle, I find blogging and social media a great tool for meeting my next book. I like to see what others are reading, and what they thought about it. I also like to find out what others thought about the same book I read...although I find that I am reading more classics, but more people read contemporary works that I am not familiar with. I'm not really there, yet. So, btw, I'm glad to have met you b/c you read classics! Yay!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Ha, ha. I see we worry about the same things. I went to an ophthalmologist and he said my retinas and macula were in good condition, although I have a lot of floaters. He suggested I increase the power of my reading glasses. I've also reduced the amount of time I read.

I have enjoyed listening to audio. I started painting so I listen while I paint. It's been fun.

Ben N said...

Just wanted to say thanks. Yours is nigh on the only blog I regularly read. The choice of books you read and review, the ethos you extol and the gentle humour has been an absolute winner for me.
It is often as important to know when to stop doing something as to starting so good luck in whatever you do next.

Ruth said...

What a great idea! Paint and listen to books. I love it!

Ruth said...

Aww, thanks, Ben! I'm sorry we didn't have more conversations then. Well, thank you anyway. I'm sure I just need a good, long break from thinking too much. :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth,
I hope your summer went well and your transition back to scheduled home-school will be friction-free. We are starting back this Friday. I started Moby Dick at your behest and I simply cannot put it down! I'd never read it growing up and now I wish I had. I've always loved the sea and nautical themes, but the novel seemed so daunting. I too understand your writing dilemma. Priorities must be, well...prioritized :) Besides, one can never read too much! I listened to a very interesting and enlightening article on California's new curriculum today. I will leave a link for you. Have a lovely week and I wish you and your family a happy school year and a closer relationship to our Savior.

Dean - It is today's

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ruth,
My last sentence was supposed to say, "It is today's broadcast of The Briefing in case my link is ineffective (8/6/19)"


Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing the link. I saved it to listen to later at the gym. It's funny how I never thought to homeschool my kids when I started this endeavor; I sort of accidentally fell into it when looking for the right school for my five-year old. But now, all these years later, I cannot envision ever putting my kids into pubic school or any school, for that matter. I would rather go underground. Today's schooling is personally outrageous to me. So I cannot wait to hear what California is doing now to young people.

I am excited to hear that you are reading MD. Also I am fascinated by the sea. It is both frightening and amazing to me, and that is partly why I love this novel.

Thank you, and to you also...have an enlightening school year.

Brona said...

I love that you first read this whilst floating around in a pool - perfect!
I'll have to wait til our summer to try that out :-)

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I think live has seasons, including a blog's life, and if you want to write smaller, shorter posts, or write only about some books and not others, or do "wrap-up" posts at the end of the month with thoughts on what you've read/are reading... I'm here. I'm here for whatever you decide to write now! My own blogs have evolved greatly over the years, and will continue to change in the future, I'm sure. I don't stay the same, so why should my blogs? Right? Right.

Ruth said...

BTW, listened to the podcast, and it was UNBELIEVABLE! Utter confusion and chaos, of which we know the author!!! I don't understand why we have complicated education!!!!! Sorry for all of the exclamation points. I am so beside myself, but so absolutely grateful that I still have the liberty and ability to homeschool my kids. Nonetheless, the damage is being done to our culture and a very great expense. : (

Ruth said...

Aww, yeah, the environment (floating in one's pool) definitely enhances one's experience.

Ruth said...

Perfectly put. I love that....our lives have seasons and so do our blogs. Very true. Thanks, Hamlette.

Jillian said...

You could do a monthly roundup of your thoughts. One of those reading, writing, blogging, life summary posts people do, or something like that. So you still have a record. :) You're one of my favorite bloggers. I love your perspective, but my oh my blogging is time-consuming! :)

Ruth said...

Aww, thank you, Jillian. You are one of mine, too, and I'm overjoyed to see you writing again.

Thank you for the idea. I suppose I could do a wrap up or "Where I am now," if that makes me feel better. That may work. I've just got to learn to keep it short and sweet and let it go.

Anonymous said...

We seem to be in the same place: I just want to read! Read! Read! Read! I want to fall into a book, even the classics, and not have to document every thought I have about it. Good for you for recognizing that. I too have decided to shorten my posts, if I even post at all. Although, I still want to post about TWEM books.

Jillian said...

Hi Luci! I just wanted to say you have a lovely blog. I got an email notification when you commented & popped over to look. That said, my it is a strenuous hobby! :)

Anonymous said...

And it seems we are from the same part of the world. I grew up in a small town just north of Atlanta and went to college and lived in Atlanta for 14 years. Nice to hear from another southerner! Thanks for the compliment!

Ruth said...

Hi, Luci, thank you for sharing those sentiments. It was definitely a relief to finish a good and add it to the shelf. That was a strange new behavior, but I liked it. However, I do miss the benefits of babbling for a while after reading something. Ah, well. I'll figure it out when the time is right.

Oh, yes...I agree. I would like to keep a record of my TWEM books, too.