Prepare yourself. I'm in the mood to rant, or moan... or possibly just whine. I'm feeling sorry for myself, so if you're not prepared to sympathise, stop reading now.
The thing is, I can't settle to reading anything much. My brain just seems to skate across the surface. I take in the words, I know what's going on, sometimes I even appreciate the way something's written, but I'm not engaged with the story and I'm not rushing back to the book as soon as I have a moment.
It's probably the 'as soon as I have a moment' that's the problem. Just now I have too much to do and too much to think about. Every bit of my time seems to scheduled for something and when I'm doing one thing I'm planning something else. The only reason I'm finding time to so this is because I'm forced to be idle at this precise moment because I'm waiting for a customer. I would read now, if I could, but I have to keep alert for the moment someone comes through the door, so I wouldn't be able to lose myself thoroughly in a book.
I have read a couple of things in the past month, but neither of them required any degree of focus from me, one being chicklit and the other a novel for teenagers.
This has been going on a while. I though my challenge of last year to read only authors who were new to me would hep, but if anything it made it worse. The only book I can think of in the past six months that has grabbed me and satisfied me is Emma Donoghue's Room. No, that's not true The Crimson Petal and the White was fabulous, but since I read it just after watching the TV series I think the effect was dulled.
I crave that feeling of surrendering myself to the story, blocking out the world around, complete focus on the words. But I'm too distracted, and even when I'm idle, the cup of coffee time, and the last thing at night time, the distraction follows me and I find myself doing the crossword or looking at catalogues. It's as though because I have so many different things to think about most of the time, my brain won't stop juggling the thoughts instead of smothering all the irrelevancies and letting the book take over.
What's the answer? Probably it's just to wait until I have less to think about. At least I can still read. When I first had Elspeth, I was absolutely unable to read for about three months. I suppose I must have felt I had to pay attention to her fully all the time. Plus, of course, I was waking up several times in the night , which wasn't helping the state of my mind. One day, I picked up The Horse Whisperer and read it just about as quickly as it is possible to read, crowding great chunks intomy brain like that really hot cup of tea when you're exhausted and cold. What a relief! It was all going to be OK. I could still read. True, the The Horse Whisperer is hardly Dickens or Dostoyevsky, not even Angela Carter or Ian McEwan, but it was a whole wonderful, absorbing book.
Occasionally, I doubt my capacity to become engaged in this way any more. I watch the children, lost in a book within moments of picking it up and I think 'I was like that. Why can't I do it now?' Jut imagine if I could never engage with a book again. Probably all I need is a holiday. Or four or five fewer jobs.