A Pair of Curious Problems

I turned 40 not long ago.  That fact alone seems rather surreal and not quite possible.  Statistically speaking then, I’m about halfway through this life.  True, I may not be quite at the halfway point.  In fact, if I turn out to be one of those bizarre cases, it could be that I’m only a third of the way through.  Or it could be that I’ve expended two-thirds or better of the time I’ve been given.  We never know.  But for the sake of this posting, let’s settle on half.

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In looking at my Goodreads to-be-read shelf, I see that I have over 700 books on there.  That does not include all the books I’d like to read or even all of the physical books that I have sitting on bookshelves, waiting for me to pick them up.  There was a time when I had to ponder what my next read would be, when I would work on one or two books at a time and had to have the physical book in front of me.  Now, I can read almost anywhere and typically have a half-dozen or so in progress at any one time.  I’ve become extremely picky about what I add to my shelf, only picking up unknown books by unknown authors (to me, at least) when they have at least 4.5 stars by double-digit or better reviewers.  Most of the time, I don’t even open my BookBub emails anymore, because I’ve come to realize that even if I stopped adding books today and only worked on my backlog, looking at my rate of reading (which has averaged 27 books a year over the past 3 years), there’s a good chance I don’t have enough years left to get through them all.  It’s a rather sad thought.  True, I could read faster than I do, but what would be the point in that?  I read for either the enjoyment, the knowledge, or both, and I tend to not enjoy it and not pick up as much when I speed-read.  Thus, I read at the speed at which I can enjoy and get the most from the experience.  That whole quality of life vs. quantity.  So, I have to accept that every time I pick up a book that it may be at the expense of getting through another in this lifetime.  And thus, it had better be a good read.  I don’t give books nearly the chance that I once did because life is too short to waste on a mediocre or poor reading experience.

Then there is the other side of the coin to books:  the writing.  I’ve heard of writers bemoan the process, worried that the muse will give out and they’ll be left with nothing to write.  I don’t understand that.  I have the opposite problem (knock on wood that I’m not jinxing myself).  I have scores of story ideas written down, even more that I’ve forgotten (although I figure that if they’re worth telling, they’ll come back to me).  I work on the ones that gnaw the worst at my brain and won’t let me be and for which I think I’m up to the challenge*.  Unless senility claims me early, I can’t imagine running out of stories to tell.  Although, granted, I’m not able to turn them out very quickly, so maybe that’s a problem for the full-time writers.  Or the unimaginative.  But again, as with the reading, I don’t expect to live long enough to tell all the tales that are waiting for me to tell.  And that’s just as sad to me as the fact I’ll not be able to read all that I’d like.  Perhaps more so, I’ve not yet decided.

Am I the only one who thinks this?  Let me know.  Thanks for reading.


*Yes, Three, I know that you (and your sequel) keep gnawing at me, but I don’t think I’m up the challenge of your second draft yet.  Come talk to me after Parts is done.