Catching up on some reading, will resume regular reviews this week.

As regular readers may have noticed I didn’t get around to a book review last week, either. I had intentionally skipped the previous week’s review so I could try to get caught up on some other reading. I ended up also borrowing the fifth book of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. At over six hundred pages it was an undertaking, but that still isn’t something I have difficulty reading over a weekend. But other things came up and I wasn’t able to finish it until just a few minutes ago.

I’m not going to review Knausgaard’s book. It’s a large, intimidating work and besides,  I wouldn’t feel comfortable reviewing it until the sixth book comes out in English so I can read it anyway. It’s not six books in a series of novels but rather a novel so long that it’s split up into six books. I highly recommend it, but I won’t list my thoughts here… at least not yet, anyway.

I did borrow another book, Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto in order to review it tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday. I probably won’t get to read it until tomorrow. I still have all those back issues of magazines which I subscribe to that I haven’t read yet. I’m going to try to get at least some of those later today. Right now I want to try some fiction writing of my own, which I haven’t done in a while. I haven’t abandoned the centaur idea, but have settled on a form with which to tell that story. But today I’m going to just try a writing exercise in order to get back into the groove of things.

Not reading enough. Or writing enough. Or anything else enough.

Up to this point the book reviews I’ve written for this blog have been (relatively) new releases that I’ve usually borrowed from the library. I took the month of January off from reviews with the intent on catching up on older material from my personal library. However, I’m failing in this regard. I’m not even caught up on last week’s issue of The New Yorker, let alone the new one. It’s my fault for picking The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens as the first book to read. Sure, it’s fairly light reading but it’s a lot longer than I had realized. That’s one problem with reading books on an e-reader. I should have looked up the page count online first.

Do I finish this book, regardless of whether or not I get to anything else this month? Or do I stop now and go for the shorter books instead? The latter option wouldn’t be very difficult. I’m pretty sure I can pick up the thread of the story afterwards. But when will I get back to it? I could possibly read it once I get back to the book reviews. I almost always read those books in one sitting, usually on Saturday mornings. That gives me the rest of the week to read Dickens at a more leisurely pace.

I could also just totally abandon work on the two screenplays I’m writing, plus any guitar practice or anything else just in order to finish this book. That doesn’t sound desirable but I am tempted. I’m the type of person that likes to get everything done before I move onto the next thing, whether it be productive or entertaining. The problem is that I don’t always know when one thing is done nor am I ever sure as to what to do next.

I have so many things I want to do that I thought structure would help. It does somewhat, but I still find myself leaving things out. When I thought I nailed a routine with writing, guitar practice, jogging (oh, yeah, haven’t done that in a while) and meditation (ditto) I wasn’t reading as much nor was I catching up on movies, socializing or even playing video games. And don’t get me started on my addiction to podcasts.

This blog post started off as me kicking myself for not reading quickly enough or setting aside time to. I think it’s starting to turn into a blog post for kicking myself for not working on either screenplay today. I think I’m going to stop now before I beat myself up too much. I have a growing suspicion that stressing myself out for not doing anything is keeping me from doing anything about not doing anything.

Tuesday Random Thoughts: Upcoming book reviews, automating my reading habits (as well as waste), screenplay ideas.

  • I just got a couple of books for the next two weeks’ book reviews, A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford and Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. I plan on reviewing those books for the next two Mondays before I take the following two months off from book reviews. However, I forgot that Christmas was on a Sunday this year, and I was going to be busy the day before. I typically try to read books for my reviews in their entirety the weekend beforehand. I’ll try to get to it but I may have to postpone the later review until some weekend in January.
  • I’m thinking of cancelling my Netflix subscription and signing up for Amazon Prime. It’s not just that I’m annoyed by the selection (or lack thereof) on Netflix, but I’m very enticed by the unlimited e-books. I don’t know what the selection is going to be like but it’s worth looking into. The only problem is the cost. The cheapest option for Amazon Prime is 99 dollars a hear. That comes out to just a little more than Netflix for a lot more stuff. In other words, I’m spending about the same amount every year anyway. But my brain is stuck on “99” (a year on Amazon) versus eight bucks (a month on Netflix, roughly). I don’t usually have that much at once. Maybe I’ll sign up for the free trial this month anyway, and then pay the one-time fee come January. Of course, there’s always the library.
  • One of the reasons I wanted to try the Prime plan for reading on my Kindle, however, was so I wouldn’t have to go to the library once a week for book reviews. If I could stand the selection of books available to me on Prime then I would be able to cut out one more errand. That’s why I’m looking into getting trash pickup for my apartment instead of taking trips to the dump every few weeks. I think my neighbors in the downstairs apartment already do that. Perhaps I should ask them if we could split the cost and I’ll throw my stuff out with theirs. Now, if only there was somebody out this way that would automatically deliver my groceries every week I’ll be all set. We sell food where I work but not enough of the the stuff I get.
  • I had the idea of going through some drafts of older work and turning them into outlines for screenplays. I forgot how many of these drafts were really scraps rather than fleshed-out pieces. I got some ideas, especially some weird ones that I might be able to stitch together into a sort of surreal piece. I also have some novels and short stories that I wanted to keep as novels and short stories, but maybe I could rework them into screenplays as well. I think I’ll explore that idea in tomorrow’s writing progress post.

“Sunday” List: Top five reasons to get up at three in the morning today.

For some discernible reason I woke up just after two in the morning. It’s nearly an hour later and I can’t go back to sleep. Considering I usually get up at five-thirty I decided to just stay up. I know I’ll regret it on the other end of my work day, although I know I’m not going to have a physically active day as I have to run the front end again. One of the things that was keeping me awake was thinking about all of the reasons that it might be just as well that I get up. So I’m turning that into this week’s “Sunday” List. I present the top five reasons that I’m getting up so early today. (Exciting topic for a blog post, isn’t it?)

  1. I can write this blog post. It seems to be a running theme lately that I can’t get to a particular day’s blog post, only to publish it the next morning. I don’t have any real excuse this time other than I couldn’t think of anything for yesterday other than I had a lot of things to do and didn’t try to think of anything for a topic until it was too late. Even then I was running dry with ideas. So not only do I get a second chance by getting up early, I have a topic.
  2. I can get started on the next one. Speaking of which, I can get “caught up” on my blog posts by getting started on today’s book review. I don’t intend on writing the whole thing right off, but a beginning to the review came to me so I might as well jot it down so I have a head start on it so I can finish it when I get home from work. That is, of course, if I don’t fall asleep as soon as I get here. For those interested, this week’s book review is of The Spy by Paulo Coehlo.
  3. I can read this week’s issue of The New Yorker. Over the past few months the e-reader edition of The New Yorker has been released later and later in the day on Sundays. It now comes out around eight in the evening, which is half an hour before I go to bed. As a result I don’t get to read the whole thing in one sitting like I used to. I don’t necessarily have to but it is nice to get caught up on one aspect of my reading so I can read one of the numerous books on my Kindle at work instead, or perhaps listening to podcasts so I don’t fall behind on those, either. Either way, I can satisfy my compulsion to read as much of the magazine before my work week this morning.
  4. I can leave early for work. Never mind the reasons that I might have for wanting to get to work early. I’m not even so sure that I will. It snowed overnight and it’s supposed to turn to rain at some point today. I don’t know what road conditions are like. Why risk my life rushing to work? I can get ready for work a lot earlier than I usually do so I can play it safe.
  5. It’s probably better for my health. I’m sorry to be wishy-washy to use the phrase “I seem to remember reading somewhere” and not citing my sources, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that studies have found that it’s bad for one’s health to go right back to sleep if one wakes up after so many hours. Sleep getting interrupted is bad for the health, but going back to sleep for just a few more hours is worse. I’m sorry that I can’t cite my source for this as I really don’t remember where I read this. I think it was The New Yorker but I get the feeling that it may have also been The Huffington Post. Either way, it was a few years ago now. I’ll let you do the research. The point is that I probably would have allowed myself to go back to sleep if I could, but if this study is correct than I have some sour grapes to use here.

Damn, this topic gave me much more material than I thought it would. Time to down my first cup of coffee of the day and get on one with things.

Tuesday Random Thoughts: Book Reviews (or lack thereof),old routines, root canals.

  • I’m going to make another announcement when it comes closer to the actual time, but I decided that throughout January and February I’m going to put a hold on book reviews. I have too much reading that I want to get caught up on and this will be easier for me to do so. For one thing, I feel ill-equipped to review the likes of Dickens at Twain right now, and I have complete collections of both on my Kindle that I’d like to read through. This will also help me have the time to read as I sometimes have to read at a slower pace for reviews than when I read for pleasure, especially when I take notes as I go. In February I’ll also be taking part in the RPM Challenge again, so I won’t have time to read much anyway. I’ll continue the book review books for the next three weeks (aside from possibly this next Monday, although that’s up in the air still).
  • I found that I’ve gone back to some sense of my old routine, involving guitar practice (mostly classical) right after dinner followed by a writing session, reading regularly, my old grocery shopping habits and keeping up with all of my podcasts. I tried taking up jogging again but it’s hard when it’s cold and dark this time of year. My father’s treadmill, which is in the basement of my apartment building, is broken for good, and I can’t afford to go to a gym right now. I also haven’t taken up meditation again yet. I wanted everything else to settle into place first. I really want to add both back to my regular schedule, though.
  • I just had to make an appointment next January for another root canal treatment. This time it’s for the tooth that they’ve been working on for the past couple of years. The dentist did say that he was watching that tooth, unsure if it was also infected or not. It turns out there’s an abscess in the gums underneath. Because I’ve nearly maxed out my insurance, I have to wait until next month in order to pay for this. The insurance pays half. Considering the bill is going to be over $1,500 I’m willing to put up with the pain for a little bit longer. After all, I haven’t been able to comfortably eat on that side for years anyway, what’s a few more weeks?

A short reading to-do list.

I’m skipping a book review for this week so instead I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the reading material that I feel that I need to catch up on. I’m in the process of reading some of these materials, while others are on my “to do” list. I could go into a long diatribe about how I’ve been dragging my ass for too long and need to get it in gear and read this stuff, but I’ll hold off on that for now.

  • The current issue of The New Yorker. I subscribe to the Kindle version, which comes out on Sunday evenings. It used to arrive at early enough time that I could read the whole issue before going to bed. Now I’m luck if it comes out an hour beforehand, so I can at least read a few of the shorter articles. Then I’m stuck reading the rest of the week when I could be reading other things. This is an imaginary problem that I brought upon myself. Either way, it’s at the top of my list.
  • Interview With the Vampire. I’m about halfway through this book. I normally could have read the whole thing in one day but I’ve been busy. So I’m going to push to get this done this week. I especially want to get it done before my special request of the audio book version of The Vampire Lestat arrives at my local library. I figured that I would be able to get through it more quickly that way, if I’m trying to do other things over the next couple weeks. I should also be caught up with podcasts by the time I star that one.
  • The Complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. I have a few other collections on my Kindle, such as the complete works of Dickens, Twain and the complete La Comédie humaine by de Balzac. But I’m in the middle of Lovecraft. That, and he’s more my style than the others. I’ll get to them eventually. But before I do I think I might want to check out more material by Algernon Blackwood, a writer of similar works to Lovecraft.
  • Various blogs, articles and so forth online. This is not counting the blogs of people I follow here on WordPress, as I’m fairly good about keeping up with them (although I know I’m not so go with writing comments, liking blog posts and so on—I’m working on it, I promise). But there’s a wealth of information out there that I’m missing out on. I wish I wasn’t looking at things on a back-lit screen all the time when I am reading things online, but that’s a minor complaint. I can send pages to my Kindle, although I found with certain sites it causes the device to crash.
    I also realize that there isn’t as much of an editorial process of things one reads on the Internet as there is with books, and therefore the information could be suspect. But the Internet is good for a jumping-off point for information, at least. And that’s not to say that there are some trustworthy sites out there. But I’m missing out on a lot of commentary as well. And there’s reading lists out there, too. Considering what I’m writing about here that could be dangerous. But I suppose there are worse things to get addicted to.

Sunday List: Five “lesser” goals.

I’ve published blog posts with lists of larger goals which I want to achieve that will change my life in large ways, such as getting a better job, sell my screenplay, and so on. But there’s other, lesser things that I feel will also better me as a person. I say “lesser” not to diminish their importance but to refer to priority. While I feel that these are just as important in the long run as my larger goals, they can be put off when the larger goals need to take priority in my schedule. As usual there’s no specific order in terms of magnitude as I present my five “lesser” goals that I wish to achieve.

When making my list I noticed that the following feel more like resolutions than goals. The difference in my mind is that goals have a timetable to stick to, whereas resolutions are the broader ideas that generate goals that follow. But as I don’t have any desire to make timetables for the following, plus the fact that I’m bad at following my goals’ timetables anyway, I’m grouping them together under the same category… in my mind, at least.

  1. Take up classical guitar again. I dropped classical guitar practice over a year ago. I took a break so I could focus on writing but also because I felt that I was only practicing classical in order to go through the motions. I didn’t think that I was getting anything out of it anymore. I’ve come to the conclusion recently that the best way to test that hypothesis is to take up the practice again, and see if there’s any difference, in terms of my playing or improvement of my character. I’ve clipped my right-hand finger nails since I gave it up last year, but as I’m not planning on making a career out of playing classical music or even recording any, I’m not worried about it.
  2. Write more poetry. I’ve tried this before but had a hard time keeping it up. As a writer it doesn’t hurt to explore other forms of writing, and who knows? I might get some published. Again, this could also just improve my character. The same goes for visual art, such as drawing, which was a hobby I abandoned once I reached adulthood. It’s time to set aside a time of day for each interest. Perhaps when I first get up in the morning, before I go to work?
  3. Catch up on my reading. This is the hardest with all of the other things I want to do. Besides that, what do I mean by “catch up” on my reading? If I have no obligations to read for any school assignment or anything, what’s the rush? The problem is that I have a list of books that I’ve intended to read for a long time that I haven’t gotten to yet. A lot of them are sitting on my Kindle and I haven’t even started them yet. That’s not to mention all of the books that I wanted to start reading once I started researching Goth subculture. Reading for my Monday book reviews felt like it was getting in the way of this goal. I could just abandon my rule of reviewing new releases in order to both exercise my reviewing skills while also catching up on my book collection. Or I could also look into audio books. I could just sit down and get own with it instead of thinking too hard about it. That’s probably the obvious solution that I keep avoiding.
  4. Write more music. This goes along with the poetry and visual art, but music has always been more of a hobby to me. Even when I gave up a lot of my musical activity to focus on writing, I still felt like music provided an outlet to express myself in ways that writing could not. Besides, I have no intention on giving up Shadows of Immurement, or, if Mike is willing, Popkin-Salvador.