Story Withdrawal Makes My Head Hurt
I have been trying to focus on my class and the work load that goes with it for the last five weeks. I kept telling myself it is only twenty weeks out of your life, Cheryl; you can do this. Focus and don’t get distracted and it will be over before you know it. You can wallow in fiction when the dust settles and you don’t need to tear yourself away from a good plot…
I have done this before…
During NaNoWriMo, I cannot read for fun. I am one of those readers who gets swept away by a good story and will not be able to put the book down and get back to work until I turn the very last page. I know this about myself and so to combat it during those crazy Novembers when I was writing a novel, I just didn’t allow myself to start a book.
Not so simple.
I am also one of those readers who feel completely adrift when I am in between books. I generally have a few going at once – one nonfiction, one fiction. I cannot sit down to watch TV or eat a meal without a book to flip through. I have been like that since I first completed Go, Dog, Go on my own all those many years ago.
It’s an addiction, I know. And the withdrawal symptoms are nothing to joke about.
I know during NaNo I start to get a bit squirrelly toward the end of the month. Not so much from the pressure to complete 50,000 coherent words, but from my palms itching to go into that beautiful room where I keep my books and just start browsing, lifting one book and reading a page here, pulling another to read a synopsis there. I start to feel decidedly incomplete without having a story to fill my waiting time, quiet time, potty time, before-bed time, and so on. TV is fine, but it can only take me so far. I need the flick of the pages, the sound of paper, even the tap of the screen when I am using my Kindle.
So, how in the world did I think I would make it 20 weeks without fiction?! Obviously, I was delusional. Obviously, I had a momentay lapse of reason. Obviously, I had a moment of panic at the start of this class when I realized the sheer volume of work involved. But now, five weeks in, I am getting a swing for the workload. I am slightly ahead of the game where reading and manual prep are concerned. I have spent every free moment for the last five weeks reading my text book and attacking my coding books with multi-hued highlighters trying to stave off a panic about the board exam that awaits me at the end…
And quite simply, I can’t take it any more!!
Last night, I visited the book room. I lovingly ran my hand along the spines and reached for one of the densest books on the shelf. What can I say, I really need a hit of fiction!
Stephen King’s The Stand. One of my favorites by the master of the macabre. Excellent characters, just the right level of creepiness, and most importantly a large sprawling plot that about the ultimate battle between good and evil… yes, I think this will do the trick! Sprawling plots and characters so real you could sit down and have a beer with them are key when you have been without fiction for any length of time.
It doesn’t matter that I have read it a few times before; the story is one that will sweep me up in its momentum just the same. I am actually hoping that having read it before will help me when I have to force myself to set it down to focus on homework. We will see…
How long can you go without reading? Does it make you feel snippy? Do you feel your creativity or mental acuity suffer when you deprive yourself of a good story?