There’s something I must admit:
In the last handful of years I’ve done less than a little writing and reading.
Honestly, I talk about reading and writing more than I do either these days, and it’s not something that made me feel proud. When I say writing, I mean all of those that I do from short stories to poetry to novel writing. This includes too my roleplay and fanfiction writing. The saddest part is that I use to do these things all the time until one day I started not doing them as often. It was a gradual decline that I didn’t notice at first and when I did it seemed difficult to reverse.
The reasons are numerous. There’s obviously ones that I don’t know and likely won’t figure out until later — if ever — though the purpose of this post is to be open. With that in mind I’ll list the ones that I do know.
Chronic Health Problems
It’s come up here before, and on my social media, that I often deal with health issues. The biggest one is my JRA(Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), which I now refer to as just RA since I’m an adult, that I was diagnosed with around age five. However, on top of the RA there are other problems caused by it ranging from the havoc it wreaks on my immune system, the damage done to my body, the fatigue that bombards me, the brain fog fatigue can cause and the severity depending on how fatigued I feel, etc. can be difficult to handle. Separate from the RA I deal with chronic nerve pain, IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome), TMJD/TMD(Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction), and some other things. These health issues can often make it difficult to read or write. Sometimes it could be that my hands are hurting a lot making it painful, if not downright impossible, to hold a pen or a mouse or a book. Other times it can be that my fatigue is being terrible and I don’t have the energy to make myself do anything let alone think clearly.
In recent years I’ve dealt with a lot of stress. The exception to that being the last roughly 10 months since moving to a new area and into my first apartment. Prior to that I’d been faced with the constant possibility of ending up homeless(my entire family actually though thankfully that’s not the case now) while living on severely limited funds which occasionally resulted in us not having enough near the end of the month and going hungry. And while that was not all of it that was enough to stress me out something awful. This caused other problems and worsened my health problems. As you can imagine reading and writing became more infrequent as I found it impossible to concentrate, and using either for escapism refused to work like it did in the past. When I would read I’d always end up having to re-read what I’d just read cause I couldn’t focus with my mind full of bigger concerns. Writing was much the same way in that I couldn’t come up with ideas let alone hold onto the desire to write them with other things taking focus. I still struggle with this some though the stress has been diminished largely, but I think it’s just residual stuff as well as a combination of my health and the next reason.
Depression & Anxiety
Alright, the first part of this has been a part of my life for longer than the last five years. It’s something I’ve been dealing with since at least my pre-teen years. Generally it relates to thoughts and feelings about my health problems. Being in pain and/or sick all the time can be as mentally draining as physically, and honestly at times more so. The stress made it worse along with making my health issues worse so it got really hard to handle at times. Add on that I started dealing with some anxiety around the point my stress and depression were at their absolute worst, and I was a complete mess. At one point my depression hit the scariest level that I’d ever faced before. Thankfully friends and loved ones helped me realize this before I hit bottom. Eventually I was able to get back to a good place, but it took awhile and though the last 10 months have been better in many ways I still deal with the depression, and minor anxiety, cropping up to interfere with the things I enjoy that usually help me with both issues.
While this isn’t everything, I think it’s enough to show what has been hampering my writing and reading. And what has been bothering me, of course. I still do both, but reading takes me longer(used to read multiple books in a week and now takes me sometimes a month to read one) and writer’s block/lack of muse problems happen with my writing often. Occasionally I’ll have writing ideas though no desire or energy to do anything with them. Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to read and write more. Luckily my roleplay/collaborative writing partners have been understanding and patient; not pushing too hard or getting upset over delays. They’ve worked with me instead so I’m making progress. My reading has been improving as well. It’s not progressing as quickly as my writing, but still I’m pleased. Doing book reviews on the blog has helped, and recently I took part in a read-a-thon which was quite enjoyable.
The biggest thing that has helped me though is talking about reading and writing. As I said earlier I didn’t feel proud about it though I didn’t consider it a cardinal sin. And I still don’t consider it one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen articles or blogs that go on about how this is wrong. Some of these are by fellow writers — even published authors — that always say not to do it and that it doesn’t make you a real writer. These same judgments circulate about people who talk about reading more than they read.
Here’s the thing though: it’s nonsense.
There’s nothing wrong with it and there’s no reason to be ashamed.
Talking about things that you love is never wrong. I love to read and write, and talking about things I love is something I’m always going to do. It’s also something I’ll encourage others to do as well. Sometimes I’ll see people say they haven’t read a book/more than x number of books in x numbers of days/weeks/months/years and similar variations about writing, and inevitably it’s followed by them saying they’ve lost their interest or passion yet that’s not necessarily true. I still see them talking about it, doing small things that count as reading(stuff online, fanfiction, ficlets) or writing(drabbles, blog posts, fanfiction), discussing/recommending books or helping other writers that are struggling, and so forth that make it clear this is not the case.
What they don’t always see clearly in relation is that when life happens — inevitably rearing its angry fire-breathing heads — it’s demanding and draining. As a result certain things get shelved while others take priority even those you love. That doesn’t mean you have to stop or give up those things. I kept talking about reading and writing. I know that if I didn’t I would not be making the strides that I have been lately. I would probably be in a worse place since those issues I dealt with before, and still deal with in some respects, were gotten through easier cause I was able to talk about what I enjoy. I don’t want to think what my life would be like without reading and writing in it, and you don’t have to give something up cause you’re not using it.
When you feel like tossing them out — don’t. When you start to feel wrong for talk about what you love more than you do them — don’t.
Do what you need to do to get through whatever matter is making it necessary to shelve them, and when ready you can dust them off and take them down again.
Thanks for taking the time to read what I had to say. It helped me to get this out, and I hope that reading this helps anyone else struggling with life’s difficulties.