I started consciously investing time in reading again for a few reasons.
Mostly simply is that I missed it. I missed the physicality of it, I missed the sustained views of other people’s worlds instead of the snippets you get on social media. I missed being the kind of person who could pay attention like that. I realized that my reading had become mostly scrolling. I missed retreating into the safety of my couch under an afghan knit by my Grandma, book in hand and tea within arm’s reach.
It was also to calm my tits. I’m not going to bother doing any research on this: I haven’t heard a single person say that looking at social media makes them feel better about themselves or the world. And when I started paying attention, it was pretty clear that my reading time and scrolling time were inversely linked. If one went up, the other went down. Reading or listening to a book rarely makes me feel anxious; scrolling on my phone almost always makes me feel anxious. So, better to lean towards books, I say.
But the main reason I started reading again was to start writing again. Up to about 2014, I was building a freelance writing career very slowly but pretty steadily. At its height, my blog was getting between 200 and 300 hits a day, which isn’t bad for random personal stories. I was writing for a couple local newspapers and doing some work for national and international magazines. I certainly wasn’t near giving up my day job, but it weren’t nothin neither.
And then, I don’t really know what happened. Or, rather, I haven’t found the distance or emotional wherewithal to sort it out. When I look back to the mid-2010s, I can see a whole bunch of swirling gaseous elements start to coalesce into a galaxy of self-doubt, and an unimpeded malaise about the world and my place in it.
It took a long time to move out of that. I almost wrote move forward but I feel like that kind of thinking is partially what got me in trouble in the first place. When it felt like things were moving back in 2015, fear turned that into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Pulling myself out of that has been no easy feat, and is possibly the second-hardest thing I’ve had to do. Reading was instrumental. It reminded me of why writing had felt so vital, and why its absence left me hollowed out.