Monday, August 16, 2010

The Sophomore Slump

My last post was exactly one month ago and I can say honestly that I have no idea where the time went.  I would like to be able to say that I've been out rescuing puppies from burning homes or building wheelchairs for the handicapable in third-world countries...but I haven't been...and so I can't.  (Wicked logic).  Sadly, the truth of the matter is that I've created a sort of black hole for myself that I haven't been able to escape from...yet.

Riding the adrenaline rush of the subject matter for my last post, I had decided to dive right into my holy grail of literature: James Joyce's Ulysses.  In my eyes, there would be nothing better than reading War & Peace and the aforementioned modern epic back to back...but two things stood in my way.  The first was a suggestion by a friend of mine that I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before venturing into the murky abyss of Ulysses.  The second was that, in my enthusiasm for being shed of the shackles of War & Peace, I inadvertently plowed through a "junk read" in a few hours the next day and, in so doing, I forever ruined my chance to read the two megaliths of literature consecutively.  I'm sure the argument could be made to the contrary, like if a baseball player has a phenomenal hitting streak going, takes a game off, and then comes back and continues the streak...did the streak end with the interruption of his play, or do you look purely at the at-bats (he technically went 0-for-0 on his day off) but, being anal retentive about details, I decided that I had blown my chance.  Not that this was a bad thing though--it allowed me to entertain the first thing that stood in my way: my buddy's suggestion of reading Portrait.

Needless to say, it proved to be a phenomenal suggestion--one that has helped me immensely in reading Ulysses.  For one, it introduced me to a few characters who would appear in the latter, as well as offering me a glimpse into what I could expect in terms of Joyce's use of stream-of-consciousness writing in Ulysses.  It helped to put me in the necessary head-space to tackle my holy grail.

Anyway, I've already bored anyone reading my blog to death with my recanting of my reading experience of War & Peace, so I'm not about to do so with Portrait or Ulysses (especially since I'm not even 100 pages into the latter).  Instead, I want to explore what caused me to lapse in my writing for four weeks.

To begin with--reading can be a very comfortable endeavor.  Too comfortable, in fact, particularly when you are lying atop a plush bed with an angelic infant sleeping peacefully on your chest.  What happened was, after getting into a routine (and head-space for reading) centered around reading, I found myself sinking deeper into a rut of laziness; the more I read, the less I wrote and, truthfully, the less I did of anything else.  It's been a disgustingly hot and muggy summer so all of the momentum I had built up walking (ha!) with Timmy every day dissipated in a fat cloud of sloth around the time I finished reading Tolstoy's novel.  I slipped into a physical funk that was followed, quite rapidly, by a mental and emotional numbing.  Simply put: I stopped doing things.

It didn't help that I was deeply immersed in the world of GTA, killing most of my time in pursuit of perfection in the game as well as rounding up the last few achievements that I needed to get.  An unfortunate by-product of this was that I got more aggressive and was quick to get agitated.  Needless to say, I wasn't a pleasant person and, with each passing day, I was burrowing deeper into a rut of unmotivation.

During that time, I did think about writing, but never found myself able to break the chains that were holding me back from actually writing anything; I was so focused on reading and playing GTA (aside from my daily duties, obviously) that I couldn't fathom doing anything else.  Unfortunately, over the past week or so, I haven't even done much reading, and, having finished GTA a week or so ago, I haven't replaced either activity with anything productive.  I've wanted to work on figuring out some music by ear, writing fiction as well as this blog, and working on some computer projects that I have lined up...I just haven't actually done any of those things.

I have a few entries that I'm hoping to work on tomorrow, though, and my expectation is that this entry will serve as both catharsis and impetus to get my ass moving again.  I could blame the dog days of summer for all of this but that would be both cliche and cowardly; I've got no one to blame but myself and now, hopefully, I'm shaking the dust off, picking the gunk out from my eyes (the hard stuff--not the soft, squishy eye bloogers that are officially referred to as "Gound" in the Oxford English Dictionary), and will get cracking.  No checking email, no going on Facebook, and no sitting aimlessly at the computer for an hour or more at a time.

There's something to be said for being productive...even on a Monday!