All In Good Time (Reading Challenge Week #10)

Blasting right past the intentional omission of Week 9 (I was off the grid) and on to Week 10 – I’m here to report that my average page count is down, but I’m just fine with that.

Okay, there’s a part of me – the obsessive, perfectionist part, that grits her teeth and wishes I had a perfect record on this. I wish I could be all “oh yes, look, I flawlessly checked off every page goal every session and I am perfectly on track.” That fantasy exists in my mind for every single thing I attempt, every single day of my life. It’s something I have to actively fight in order to make progress.

For those of us with this tendency to scrap any project that has not been executed flawlessly, it’s important to find things that counterbalance that fear that we are bad if we have not done everything exactly as planned. Friends who encourage us to let go. Unscheduled weekends. Forging through and letting the flaws become part of the inherent beauty. Pollock’s cigarettes stubbed out in his paintings. This is the little visual mantra I play on loop when I feel myself getting too caught up in trying to control every detail.

Ten weeks in and I have 8 books read, and another underway. That takes my 60 unread books on my shelves down to 52. This year I’ve reminisced about political eras gone by, revisited one of the books that made an enormous impact on my art and expression, vicariously experienced the horror of earth’s extreme locales and disasters, and learned a bit about a country I know very little about. Since the last blog post, I’ve finished The Great Influenza, the true story of the 1918 influenza outbreak that ravaged the world. (I had meant to read it in 2018, but just got around to it now.) I read The Whalestoe Letters, the mini companion to House of Leaves, which I had included with an online order a few years back but never read because I didn’t have time to re-read the full book yet again. Oh well, got it done! It was a single-day trip back into a world that changed how I viewed writing. (House of Leaves and Silent Hill are my two biggest influences on anything I have ever created.)

I understand the argument for letting go of books that have sat unread on your shelves for far too long. I have, in fact, let go of several dozen I picked up and never felt I really cared enough to read. These that remained, though, have created an interesting resource that has allowed me to get back in touch with a version of myself that I lost touch with when I got sick. It’s not just the books – in the past two weeks there have been quite a few people and events that encourage me to be my best self — but to those that love books as I do, there does seem to be a magic unleashed within those words and pages. I feel as if I’m honoring a deep part of my intuition as I work through these books that I more carefully curated to be part of my collection. This experiment is not scientific, but I do feel as if it’s playing a key role in rediscovering some of my belief in myself and moving past my darkest times.

I’m not fully done with the little break-cation I’ve been on, and am not quite ready to do a deep dive into anything like a review or advice. I’m experiencing now and will transmute later. For now, let this significant week pass with this wholehearted expression of my love and appreciation for books, for everyone who reads them, everyone who writes them — and anyone determined to keep striving for a better day.

Stats, Week 10 (change from week 8)

Books completed (total): 8 (+2)

Books to go: 52 (-2)

Pages read (total): 2850 (+388)

Pages to go: 19908 (-388)

Pages per day (all year): 42.54 (-3.91)

Pages per day to complete entire goal by end of year: 66.81 (+1.76)

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