The first book I read in 2021 was A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas). It took me forever to finish it.
Last January, I remember, I blitzed through seven or eight Lisa Gardner’s novels with a thrilling satisfaction, even though suspense isn’t my cup of tea, and then continued with the same pace and an array of authors for the following six months. Reading has always been my salvation, my sanctuary, my deepest need. Since I discovered the written world, books were my closest friends: I read classics, popular fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, great books, not so great books… everything but magazines and newspapers (once I left journalism for good, that is).
And then, sometimes this summer, just like that, it stopped. Old TV series on YouTube, documentaries, podcasts and video clips about quantum physics (not that I understand much of it :-)), mental health, and acrylic painting have become my new form of escapism. I could neither read nor write; my imagination, my most treasured “possession” and such a huge part of me since I could remember, vanished, as if someone turned it off.
What’s to blame? COVID, my age, depression that I’ve been wrestling with for years? Reading and writing (and medications) had been my greatest allies against my congenital melancholy and many life’s challenges. So what to do now?
And that’s not all; there are my books, too. My attempt to “embrace obscurity” didn’t work out. It’s one thing to tell myself it doesn’t matter; I’m writing for myself, but it’s another to see my novels sitting on Amazon with no reviews, no sales, no recognition at all. The library e-copies were doing fine for several months, but the constant flood of new electronic books has made it impossible for an unknown author to stay visible for long. The Smashwords editions are still free and there have been over 2000 downloads but I don’t know how many of them go to samples and how many to the full books. How many people read them? Between 4 and 2000+ although I can be sure only about those four since they “favorited” me. And again, no reviews, no ratings, either good or bad. Nothing. Silence.
Together with COVID, the death of my best friend in July and the months-long worry for my critically ill cousin, this complete invisibility of my novels pushed me even deeper into despair and — of course — I started entertaining some not helpful thoughts: I shouldn’t be writing at all. My stories are not good. If they were, they would find their readers, right?
This way of thinking won’t make me sit in front of my computer and start writing, I know, but it seems I can’t find the way out. My wise older sister says I’m too hard on myself. She thinks I should let it be, give myself time and stop torturing myself. Yes, but how?
The debacle with my books and my family issues aside, does anyone else experiences the COVID-induced absence of inspiration and motivation?
How do you cope with it?
I got sidetracked. This post was supposed to be my observations about the book that took me three long weeks to read. Disturbance in my reading habits wasn’t the only reason, but I’ll leave it for the next post.