Monday, August 26, 2013

Reading vs Television

Good Morning. The last few months I've not been writing, I thought that would give me more time for reading. When I was living at the beach, long before Monster, even though I worked three or more jobs at the same time, I always had a book in my hand. I could probably get through  4 or 5 a week.

You would think because I stopped writing, I would have more time to read. You would think with real life finally under control I would have time to relax on the couch with a good book. And I'd recently bought a book by a favorite author that I've been dying to sink my teeth into.

Usually when I find myself with free time, there's always something else to do, you know what I mean... clean the clutter off the sideboard. Put the things that have been sitting on the stairs away. Straighten out Monster's bedroom -- again.

But one day I found that all that was done. I had even started the dishwasher. I actually had TRUE free time.

And I turned on the tv. And I sat and watched Castle reruns for two hours.

Why didn't I read the book? I asked myself that a million times since. Because you know I haven't found a spare moment since.

It was just too hard.

What? Since when is reading hard? I've been reading books since I was 4. It wasn't as if the book I wanted to read was a comparative dissertation on Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. It was a quick women's fiction, only 235 pages. And I liked her first book, so I was sure I'd like this one.

Then why did I sit on the couch and waste two hours watching Nathan Fillion? (Well, yeah, because hey, it's Nathan Fillion). But more importantly, it was mindless. I didn't have to pay attention. I'd seen it before.

In reading that book, I would have had to engage my brain. Fire the synapses to make connections with my inner self -- memory, vocabulary, imagination. First, I would have to THINK. Second, I would probably have inner edited. Putting that aside for the moment, third, I would have felt incredibly guilty that I wasn't writing. Inner deadlines, you know.

I miss reading. I really do. I miss letting myself go into another world, miss meeting new people (characters) who are different from me. I miss spending time in other places. Places I might never go. That I don't have to research.

Which I guess is the reason why I watch television. It's easy. You just have to sit and watch. You don't have to think. In the seconds you SEE something, your brain registers it. There's really no thinking involved.

When you read, you have to figure out what the author meant when she describes the wind whispering in between the window casing. Or the color between turquoise and teal. When you watch tv, it's right there in front of you. Your imagination is not engaged. There's nothing hard about watching television. Just plop your butt in the chair and turn it on.

Tell me -- Do you read more or less than you used to?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

17 comments:

Linda G. said...

I read so much less than I used to. That is the one drawback to writing--it eats into my reading time.

You're right about watching TV--it is mindless. When my mind needs a break from rearranging all the words in my head into stories, I need something that isn't demanding. TV does provide that.

Maria Zannini said...

I read more nonfiction than I used to, but less fiction.

Maybe it's a phase?

I'm not much of a tv watcher, but when I want to give my brain a rest I do watch tv.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Ugh, I know. I feel if I'm not cleaning the house, or feeding the Monster, I need to be writing. Reading seems frivolous somehow.

Maria -- I hear you on the reading phases. I used to only read historical romance. Then I broke away from that into cozy mysteries. Then a few summers ago all I read was autobiographies. Now it's women's fiction. Well, when I get the chance to read. Which by this post, isn't all that often. I think I need the perfect environment to read. The non-guilt inducing environment. Because as a mother, you know there's always something to do.

Bish Denham said...

I probably read the same as I always have because... I read at night in bed before I go to sleep. It's my addiction. I can't NOT do it. It doesn't matter how tired I am or how late it is, I read, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes. I occasionally read during the day, but I'm usually doing other things... like leaving comments on blogs. :)

B. WHITTINGTON said...

Anne,
I read in spurts. I'll read ten in a row (but then we're retired and I have the time) and then I'll get away from it for months. When I write I rarely read. It distracts me.
I love reading almost as much as writing! TV is so mindless and those commercials are driving me nuts.
Anyway I'm getting ready to launch into some fall writing and looking forward to it.
I'm about read out for now! Finishing my last read for now. We read more at different stages of our lives. When we're full of children and chores it's hard to concentrate. Best of luch at whatever you do.
Tried to comment on here last week and it would not let me. Blogspot was acting strange. Oh well. Blessings.

B. WHITTINGTON said...

PS best of luck...

Em-Musing said...

Aw, don't judge too much. No one is taking notes on how much you read. Me? I absolutely can't find books that make me laugh continuously like a great sitcom. I'm addicted to Arrested Development. Saturday I sat through six episodes and LMAO. It's good for the soul. And you never know, you may learn or be able to add new things to your writing by watching TV. We humans go through cycles. This is just one of yours.

Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

I do the same thing, Anne. And then I feel guilty because I have so many books waiting to be read.

Actually, I've read more in August than I have in a long time. But, unlike you, that's because I'm not writing.

To everything there is a season ...

The Happy Whisk said...

I read a great deal of non-fiction and always have done that. But fiction, it's been awhile since I picked up a book. Though when I do, it's not really work, I just get lost in the story and it's fun.

Liza said...

I still read, but I do find myself analyzing style. Sometimes I am critical but more often I drown in envy wishing I'd written the something lovely I just read.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I don't read as much as I did 10 years ago,or as young adult. But, where I might not read four or five books a week anymore I do read at least 2. Even when my practice was like 40 plus hours a week I found time to read. Call it balance and escape but I need it. Books and music relax me.

Writing also puts me in a similar place--escape to another world another place, but unlike reading it takes a different mindset and sometimes that's just too damn tired to perform. :-)

I do agree, TV is mindless. I do watch a few shows now and then but it tends to irritate me rather than relax. I can literally go weeks without watching TV and not miss it.

I learned a long time ago not to feel guilty by reading. There isn't a need to work myself to death because the chores will always be there--I don't neglect them but they don't rule my life.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Laura Pauling said...

I read more than I used - but that was more due to my Kindle. It made it easier, there are more books to choose from. I read every night. :) Even if it's for 30 minutes before bed.

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- I hear you. There's always so much to do during the day, but reading at night before bed is something I cannot do. I find I need to focus on the next day instead. I wish I could read in bed.

Barb -- Reading in spurts. That's what I used to do before I became a writer. But like you said, writing takes up a lot of time. Sorry about blogger. It's been pooping on me lately too.

Leigh -- I hear you on the cycles. As with everything else. I used to blog a lot. Now not so much. Used to cook too. Now I'm lucky if I can make mac and cheese in the microwave. I know I'll get back to reading eventually. I just miss it.

Linda -- Oh the guilt! I know, such a little thing like reading can make or break my day. Yes, there is a season and mine is usually summer but that didn't go as planned. Maybe next year.

Happy -- I think that's what I miss most about reading, that it's fun. But since I've been writing, I find that I'm editing the text instead of enjoying the story. I'll have to break myself of that habit.

Liza -- I hear you on the envy. Just once I'd love to write something and say, "Hey, that's Hemingway!"

Sia -- Escape. I think that's part of my problem as well. I love to escape from the mundane and everyday. As for chores, unfortunately I do let them go, sometimes for longer than I should. But as with everything else, it eventually catches up to me. Tv is an escape but like you, I can let it go for weeks at a time. Some days I even wish I didn't have one. I miss the silence.

Laura -- I have so got to get a Kindle. I have 73 books on my PC but that's such a pain. I can't sit at my desk and read. Maybe for Christmas I'll spring for one.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I used to watch a lot more TV when we had cable. When we cancelled it I started reading again. Reading and TV are alike in they're both escapist activities but you're right when you say the brain gets tired and just wants the easy fix of TV. If I read in bed that helps, seems easier.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Love this! I've been reading TONS more than I used to. It has made a big difference in my writing and my sanity. :)

Donna Hole said...

I read a lot less than I used to. My inner editor doesn't turn off just cuz its not MY writing.

But, I find I need the mindless downtime - and reading is rarely mindless anymore. I'm always thinking of the review I'll write, or not if it is not excellent. And like you, I wonder if there is a deeper meaning or symbolism in the word/phrase choices that I'm misinterpreting. TV is just pictures and surface concepts - no internal thoughts, no backstory on character choices. Just face value.

I must compliment you on your choice of mindless TV watching. I don't know how you only watched 2 hours of Castle - I do all day marathons :) Hunk a dunk!!

......dhole

J.L. Campbell said...

Boy, do I know what you mean! Could that be why I watch so much NCIS (talk about rerun ad nauseam) and things of that sort?

The thing I enjoy least about reading these days is one of the problems you have. I can't stop editing. :(