May 24, 2020

Monthly Author Check-In, Personal

Monthly Author Check-In: May 2020

What I’m Writing: Hopefuls 3, and a bonus Hopefuls short story
What I’m Reading: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
What I’m Loving: The Great on Hulu

Oh, May. What to say about May?

Earlier in the month, I was fully prepared to give May a glowing review. I was settling into my quarantine routine, and fairly content with my circumstances all things considered. I was getting back on track with good habits and hobbies, including a strong workout routine. I had done some baking for the first time since forever. I broke the reading slump I’d been in for the whole of quarantine (more on that later). I was making progress on both my writing and the marketing/administrative side of my author business. In general, my outlook had lifted, my mental health was good, and I felt positive about how things would be for me moving forward, despite the crumbling state of the world.

Then I found out that one of my cats, the one I’ve had for over 14 years and raised from a kitten, quite possibly has cancer.

There were a few other blows that landed before that, some pandemic-related struggles that various friends and family members were dealing with, but I was still able to maintain good spirits throughout those hits because, while scary and upsetting, everything seemed/seems like those would work themselves out in the end.

But now, my sweet baby Shadow… I’m not gonna lie, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to handle this.

Today, I’m going to handle it by pretending it doesn’t exist for the sake of the rest of this blog post, and discuss one of the other updates instead—even if, by contrast, it feels somewhat hollow and meaningless in the face of that.

Reading Struggles

In general, it seems like people in lockdown have either been doing tons of reading, or no reading at all. I’ve fallen solidly into the latter camp. As much as I’d love to be able to use both reading and writing as an escape in difficult times, the truth is that I don’t handle stress very well, and my ability to focus on anything meaningful is usually the first thing to go. (Hence why I’m fixating on this part of the update? Maybe.)

So I didn’t read anything in the second half of March, and I didn’t read anything in April, and I didn’t read anything in the beginning of May. And while a part of me was frustrated by this, honestly a bigger part of me simply didn’t care. This is just how things were going to be. I knew that eventually, when I was starting to feel a little better, something somewhere would spark my interest. I also knew I couldn’t predict when that would happen, or what book would finally break it.

And, true to fashion, what finally broke it was so utterly random that I wouldn’t have been able to manufacture the circumstances if I had tried.

I ended up reading Gone Girl for the first time.

Let me give you two pieces of context for this admission:

1) I don’t typically read thrillers. I have read a few, and I’ve considered reading a few more than I’ve actually read, but it’s not a shelf I tend to reach for, or keep up with what’s new in the genre.

2) Somehow, despite the fact that the book was a hit back when it first came out in 2012, and despite the fact that they even made a movie about it some time later, I had never been spoiled about the twist, or the book’s ultimate end. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Why did I decide to pick it up? Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for it—I was watching a YouTube video where someone was talking about one of Gillian Flynn’s other books, and that one kind of sounded interesting to me, but it was already checked out on Overdrive. Gone Girl wasn’t.

There’s no real reason for me telling you this story, other than to say: if you’re also struggling with getting any reading done, might I suggest trying something completely out of left field? I think a bit part of what ultimately helped me get into this book (aside from the fact that it’s compulsively readable), was that I hadn’t been looking forward to reading it for ages, unlike a lot of the other things I’d been picking up and abandoning. The complete lack of expectations and pressure meant that I was able to just dip my toe in and decide that, yeah, okay, this intrigued me enough to keep going, and that state of “keep going” just, well, kept going all the way to the end.

Though I will admit that I am solidly in the camp of Did Not Like for the ending, not even a little bit. Still, the book did literally what I picked it up hoping it would do, and now I am queuing up a whole list of popular thrillers just to see what else holds my attention in these messed up times. Because apparently when the world is complete shit, I need missing persons, psychopaths, and weird murders to keep me entertained. Who knew?