A few years back I'd lost my passion for reading. It was the most excruciating time of my life. Reading has been the one steady, reliable, undemanding, unquestioning companion of my life. In times of crisis, of pain, of loss, of boredom, passing time wherever time needed passing by entertaining distractions, reading always fulfilled my needs.
Making a serious committment to writing ruined all that. It was like a vital part of my being had become infected, festered like a gangrenous wound, and died. I could have amputated an arm and a leg and poked out an eye and the loss would have been less traumatic. I could read lifelong favorites and point out their many small and large shortcomings according to some consensus standard or other, my private standards notwithstanding. Worse, the few companionable and like-minded writer-readers of my social acquaintance were estranged by my hypercritical negative criticism.
The way I found forward was by hyperfocusing on virtues. It wasn't easy. The hard part was appreciating what is virtuous. Naturally, due to the subjective nature of what is or isn't art, I had to define for myself what is virtuous. I excluded all external values, ideals, principles, writing or otherwise, and focused on how I felt about any given narrative or narrative unit. If a poignant passage made me laugh, made me cry, made me angry, made me sympathetic, made me sad, made me feel, or enlightened me, I noted it and read on, coming back to it to contemplate, dissect, and practice emulating it. If a passage didn't do anything for me, I noted it and read on, coming back to it to contemplate and dissect why and also why the writer kept it in. I questioned whether I'd been too obtuse to appreciate it, why it didn't concern me, and what the intent was and why it didn't rise to the occasion.
I came out the other side of darkness with ever more profound and deep reading experiences. Nothing in the narrative arts and dramatic arts, regardless of whatever, defies my appreciation and understanding for my sake anymore because I approach it all as a reader from a need for enjoying the intended participation mystique. As a writer reading, my approach now is an open-minded focus on what the intent is and whether I can access and appreciate the intent, and whether it rises to the occasion of my enjoyment. If it doesn't, such is life.
I learned a harsh truth about myself along the way. My need for solitude is not merely a personal choice, it's a consequence of interacting with others like I did with reading and writing during the dark times and alienating them. I have other causes of my hermitic nature, but now I'm coping with them better by having less traumatic interpersonal interactions when I do have them. I'm not nor can I be an island. Social beings need society and society is disinclined toward accepting naysayers.
Spread the love of written word.