On Extended Slumps (or An Identity Crisis in D Minor)

More and more I have found my self at the mercy of unexpected reading slumps.

There is flavor of the Slump I generally understand and can anticipate.

Exempili Gratia: I knew that when I finished the last book in RotE, a 16 volume MASTERPIECE, I wouldn't be as invested or interested in whatever I read next. I was right. But luckily, I had stacked the deck with some fluffy one-offs that were interesting enough but didn't carry the expectation of blowing me away.

The important thing- in my opinion- is keeping up the habit. If you make sure that there's a portion of your day carved out for reading and reading alone, it wont always matter if you absolutely love what you're reading. And this is what lead to my previous string of rarely DNFing- because the book didn't need to be incredible, it just needed to fill the task of being something to read.

I guess as I've gotten a bit older, a bit more cynical, that view has changed. And it's had a backlash that has landed me in more and more slumps.

Because now, the book must be at least pretty good or I simply Do Not Care. And "pretty good" is somewhat kind. Really, it need some undefined intangible quality. I can't track it by pace or characterization or moral. It's more like Muchness. If a story does not have Muchness, I Do Not Care.

There's too much else. E-mails to answer, projects to finish, calls to return, family to avoid, and on and on and on.

You're right, if I could only listen to my own advice and carve out a little time, maybe only 20 mins, that would change.

But if behavior was as simple as knowing what should be and making it be, well, I'd have saved a lot of money on therapy.

And it's not always the book's fault.

If I were to pick up Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn right now, I would find it insufferable. But I love the series, I love Tad William's writing, and I love the world. It just wouldn't fit me right now.

Conversely, If, last year, I had started The Mirror Visitor Quartet, I probably would have stopped after book one and I'd've missed out on an incredible and unique story.

So, the core of the matter is that I can't seem to anticipate what kind of story I need anymore.

Is this an identity crisis?

I was taught that fiction is either a lens or a mirror. It reflects ideas or themes or the world through another perspective or its allows the reader to mix empathy with imagination and put themselves in a world they would not normally encounter.

So it would make sense.

If I am now in a period of my life where I view my identity as less an intrinsic concept and more an active tense demonstration of my impact and interaction with those around me, yeah, it would make it pretty hard to nail down exactly what I'm looking for.

If I'm not an Uncle, or a Small Business Owner, or a Cook, or a Listener, or any other Title, then what do I call myself to myself?

Yes, this is, in fact, an identity crisis.

Is this what everyone's late 20's are like?

Earlier in my life, I would have explained my identity (read: existence (read: soul?) ) as something solid and detailed and defined.

I'd say I was a marble statue, The curve of my hand there is as real as my desire to be compassionate. The stone of my fine hair is as tangled as my insistence that art and communication were the most important things I could pursue. My feet are as solid as the knowledge that the world can be changed for the better and I can change it.

Age wears away at these things.

Now, instead, it seems that statue is planted at the water's edge and as more and more waves crash into it, the salt eats into the detail. It wears at the anatomy until it is less concrete, more abstract. A lock of hair crumbles. Then a finger. Whole pieces are lost. And yes, sometimes when the water splashes up, there is a moment where the shape of the spray looks exactly like an arm, completing the strange and smoothed shoulder as something real and recognizable. Then the wave passes, drenching the rock and eating away again.

You see, the extended metaphor is a surefire indicator of an identity crisis from a creator.

I've gotten off track here. I think that may prove the point.

Turmoil can usually be smoothed by fiction. Thats an opinion but I find that most folks agree. You watch someone else struggle and you see their path and realize it's not so different from your own.

But the path is changing daily.

And I've DNFed a whole lot of very good stories lately.

Maybe when I commit to my own, others will become far more enjoyable again.

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