Short Attention Span Readership


I am not reading enough.  I know that.

In spite of the fact that I’m just fresh (mostly) off of a week of vacation, I was still behind in my initial Goodreads goal of reading sixty books this year.  Up until yesterday morning, I was two books behind.

I fixed that. I changed the goal from reading sixty books this year to reading forty.

I am now eight books ahead of schedule.

I regret nothing.

Here’s the thing.  Part of my struggle is my choice of reading materials.

About a month ago, I went to the library and checked out these books:

Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz. I had started this series as audio books a few years back.  Since that time, the CD player in my truck has developed an appetite for discs and will not play, or return the discs. So, I got the book from the library. I finished reading Odd Thomas, and also read Forever Odd, which I own in paperback.  I want to finish the whole series.

The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy.  Honest confession, I don’t think I’ve ever read Clancy.  I did meet him in another life some twenty-five-ish years ago when I drove a Hollywood producer from DC to Clancy’s home on the Chesapeake Bay.  Also, honest confession, I haven’t started that one yet.

The Pillars of the Earth, the first in the Kingsbridge Series by Ken Follett.  I checked this out at the recommendation of several friends.  As of this writing, I’m about halfway through the book.  It’s a challenge.  In fact, it’s a bit of a task. The writing is brilliant, and I enjoy reading it.  But it’s one of those historical fiction books that spans years to tell the story.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s masterfully written.

It’s. Just. So. Long.

I don’t mind long books.  I’m a Tolkien fan, remember?  And yes, I was a fan long before the movies.  I don’t mind books that come in a series. In fact, I love books in a series.

I do grow weary of books that span years, unless they’re biographies, of which I also need to read more.

On a side note, I generally only read biographies of people who are already dead.

I started several years ago re-reading the Shannara series.  I’m all caught up with the exception of The Stiehl Asssassin which just came out in May of this year.  I’m cheap enough to wait for the paperback…and I have enough to read until that time.  This is another series that I hope will soon see an end.  It’s gone on too long and just needs to end.  Still, I will continue to read out of sheer stubbornness.

I did much the same with the Left Behind series years ago.  But I refused to go back and read the prequel to that series.

Back to Follett.  Like I said, I’m enjoying the book. It just slowed me down in my reading goal.  Toss a dozen scripts at me and I’ll be back on track.

But I don’t read just for the numbers.

I read because I enjoy it. I read because I can’t be a writer without being a reader.

Unless you think I’m a slacker by getting bogged down with The Pillars of the Earth, since the time I checked it out, I finished the two Odd Thomas books noted above. I also re-started The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, since I’m not quite sure I ever made it through all the books. I’m currently in the middle of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Sometime this year, I also plan to re-read The Lord of The Rings, because it’s time. And, I’m also due to re-read the Harry Potter series. Potter may wait for next summer’s week at the beach, because we are going.

Back to the point, if there was one.

I know I need to read more. I need to step away from the computer screen and pick up a book.  I even have the perfect chair in my office for doing so.

The chair also happens to be very conducive to napping.

When I can get the cat to move.

I wanted to read sixty books this year.  I managed to read fifty-one last year, so sixty seemed reasonable.

Halfway through the year, I am not admitting defeat.  I’m just adjusting for reality.

Reality that, with my theater and writing schedule, and oh yeah…the day job, I may not make it to sixty books.

The number is less important than the fact that I’m still reading.

Which is what I should be doing now.

Cover Photo by Janko Ferli on Unsplash
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In which, Shaun issues a clarion call

It’s Tuesday. Today we write.

Observant readers will note that lately, I’ve not been very consistent with the posts here. Readers will also understand that, even if I promise to change, there’s no money back guarantee.

It’s not that I’m not writing. I’m just not writing here. For years I made every effort to post here on a daily basis. In the grand days of blogging, I was also part of a coalition of bloggers who ruled the Virginia political blogsophere. True story.

So, there was a bit of nostalgia when Shaun drew our attention to this article written on the 20th anniversary of the origin of the word “blog.”

Bring Out Your Blogs
I’m sure if we did way back sleuthing we’d find lots of conference presentations in a range of professions and pursuits on how “blogging” isn’t a good use of time because of page views, or clicks, or SEO, or engagement, etc. Pay no attention to the man behind the podium. Just share what’s of importance to you. And don’t look at page views. Don’t seek claps. Don’t chase reposts. Don’t covet trackbacks. Seek the unique pleasure of having shared something you feel is worth sharing. And the conversations that sort of writing (that sort of blogging) encourages. And yes, it can take time. Good things generally do.

That post inspired Shaun to write:

Frankly, I prefer a time where folks sat in coffee houses either playing chess or working on our little novellas while reading Infinite Jest — as if we could all be the next David Foster Wallace.

Shaun goes on to say:

Nevertheless, I do get the sense that I have lost my touch. I was a better writer 10 years ago in some respects — more confident, self-assured, ready to set the world to rights with thunderbolt in one hand and snake in the other. One supposes my twenty-something self and my thirty-something self would have gotten along famously, whereas my forty-something self (I have just recently been introduced to these ranks) would politely smile and nod.

Shaun’s post, and the promise of a sammich, inspired brother Jason to write:

As I said above, blogging isn’t publishing. It’s a public scratchpad for folks with ideas larger than a tweet or an emoticon. It’s at its best when it’s not pretending to be the New York Times or Gizmodo or FOXNews…I like this renaissance in blogging. And I hope it brings more people back into the fold – and some fresh blood while it’s at it.

I feel much the same. I miss what it meant to blog in the “old days.” While I’ve tried to keep this site going (as well as two others that I finally surrendered), it’s just not the same as it used to be.

Then again, neither are my knees. But that’s another story.

I gave up political blogging a good while back. I have my reasons. Among them are total disgust with the whole process and finally admitting “I can no longer defend these guys.” (insert “guys” of your choice), and the fact that I’m pursuing artistic endeavors elsewhere that may or may not share the same political leanings. It’s about choosing your battles.

For a long time, I sought to fashion a writing career that would fund the early retirement and perhaps a writing desk with a view of the water. But I found that I don’t want to write just for money. I mean, I wouldn’t snark at a $50,000 advance on the next great American novel. But I’m not into writing copy for ten cents a word. Don’t get me started about writing for the “exposure.”

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I write for me. If, as happened with my script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy, I pick up some interest and folks want to read what I write, or better yet, publish or produce what I write, then, by all means, let’s make a deal.

But these days I spend most of my time writing to myself. I crank out a minimum of a thousand words every morning. Some mornings it’s journaling. Some mornings it’s creative writing. Some mornings it’s laundry lists. But it’s always writing.

I’ve also taken to carrying a notebook and pens. I try to find time each day to handwrite a story or an essay. Some days this is easier than others. The larger challenge will be going back to decipher my handwriting.

Maybe this nudge to return to blogging is a good thing. For a while, Twitter and Facebook filled those roles. But Twitter is a cesspool, and some days I can’t hit the “hide” button fast enough on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I still get many things from both sites. I just don’t go there for original thought.

What does all this mean? I can’t, no I won’t, promise you that I’ll be here sharing brilliant thought on a daily basis. I can, and will, promise you that I will continue to write.

It’s what I do.

Well, among other things. But that’s a different story.

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