Monday, April 24, 2023

A quiet loss, a quiet gain

I don't read like I used to. I don't write about books like I used to. I have struggled to keep up with my literary endeavors over the past few years. I don't talk to other book reviewers or bloggers like I used to. I don't understand many of the newer outlets of literary discussion. I don't engage with social media sites the way I used to. I don't read like I used to.

I've never liked bombastic claims about the death of literature or review culture. They are almost never accurate. Here too, I cannot claim that I am seeing the death of anything. A loss, certainly, but it's quiet. It's been stretched out over what feels like a lifetime. I have been blogging since high school; I'm about to finish my PhD. I'm not done blogging, I'm not done hosting WITMonth, I'm not done with my involvement in this world and caring about it. But I'm also not able to keep up the way I used to.

I often find myself thinking, wistfully, how much I miss reading. On rare occasions, it's because I feel that I'm wasting my reading time on something else. But overwhelming, I find that the time I used to spend on reading now goes to other important activities. It's time I spend with my family and friends. It's time I spend on my academic research, the completion of my PhD, my work in the lab. And the time that I spend reading is still cherished and important. It's just harder to come by. A few years ago, I realized that many books that had once seemed interesting and appealing to me no longer did so. They still sit on my shelves, but I find that I'm just not interested in reading them. At the same time, I've let myself read from lots of other genres and fields and topics that I had never previously considered. The pendulum swings, as I've said so many times before. It's fine. It's good.

It's just also a type of loss.

As I said: I'm not giving up on this blog and I'm not giving up on WIT and I'm not giving up on reading. (Hah! As if that could ever happen...) I'm also not going to pretend that I can keep it up at the same pace that I did when I was a teen or an undergraduate student. I'm going to continue to do what I can. I'm going to make space for myself to write blog posts when I can, when something interests me, or when it makes sense. I'm going to try to write reviews when I feel passionately about a work and want to share that with the world (for good or for bad). I'm going to try to recognize that I may be losing the volume of reading and writing that I used to do, but not its inherent value. If anything, I have gained more confidence in what I write and what I wish to share.

And as for social media? I hope that someday I will find the right outlet for that too. Somewhere where I can talk about books freely, safely, comfortably. Somewhere where the conversation leads to wonderful connections and friendships, like those I had previously cultivated here and elsewhere. Maybe it'll be on an existing platform. Maybe it'll be somewhere entirely new. For now, this remains here. And I remain here.