In the past few days, I have finished four different books (some already started, some started this week). Three of those four books were finished today, and one I’d only started today. My mind is a jumble of meaningless inner monologues, kicked into the highest gear of Writer’s Overdrive as if I’m narrating my own life the way Eddie Adams, the main character of The Chalk Man (my most recent read) did.
I’m not sure what compelled me to read this much, or if it was anything in particular, but I realized today that I’m jumping from story to story like some directionless madwoman, drunk on each new tale, each new spin of characters and situations. There may be no real rhyme or reason behind my sudden urge to devour an onslaught of books (some great in their stories, some average) in less than a week, but I somehow feel like it says something about my current mental state. I did always lean toward escapism.
The strangest part of this, however, is my avoidance of series. And this hasn’t been a recent thing, either. The realization I was leaning toward standalones sort of just culminated in the past few days of me jumping from book to book, leaping over literary cliffs before running up the hills to another, larger one sporting colder waters below.
A good friend of mine recommended this series to me recently—well, recommended might not be the best word. She bought me the books, a duology, and told me to read them; I didn’t mind this, though. Books were always a welcome gift for me, and I was excited to dive into this world she seemed to love so dearly. In fact, the first book, Six of Crows, was so good I finished it in two days. (It wouldn’t have taken as long if it weren’t for work, but life has a tendency to infringe on my reading time.)
Then came time to start the second book, the finale of the series, and I hesitated.
In fact, I did more than hesitate. I stalled. I read other books in between, burning through Kristen Ritter’s Bonfire and Naomi Alderman’s The Power in a couple days, ignoring the bright red book on my nightstand that gave me an accusing glare any time I glanced at it before picking up yet another novel.
There was nothing wrong with the Six of Crows series. I loved it, really. I loved the setting, the characters, the writing style, everything, so that had nothing to do with my avoiding it. Rather, it was strangely hard for me to bring myself to sit down and rejoin characters and a story I already knew. I needed the rush of a fresh start, the adrenaline that comes with diving into a new world and new characters, something like Riley Sager’s Final Girls or Emily Henry’s A Million Junes—a standalone novel that I could read and then shove back onto my shelf, marking another from the TBR pile as I raced to new, unexplored heights.
I’m not sure when this started, but thinking back on it now, it’s been a long time since I actually read a book series. The last one I tried was The Witcher series since I loved the video games so much, and though I tore through the first book, The Last Wish, rather quickly, the second has stagnated on my shelf since fall of my senior year, nearly a year ago—much like myself since graduation, stagnating.
I haven’t stuck with a series I can remember since The Legend of Drizzt, back when I was fifteen and read that series like it was religion, buying the next one at Barnes & Noble the moment I neared the end of the previous one. I still have every single one of that chronicle, lined up neatly on my white shelves, from book one to book thirteen.
Oh, there is one other more recent series, The Iron Druid Chronicles. Those were amazing, well-crafted, and full of so much delicious lore and mythology woven into its settings and plot that I couldn’t put them down. I have about six of those on my shelf, but the seventh is in my TBR pile, gathering dust after I got through the first few chapters and then found my interest tapering off—not for any fault of the author’s, but some fault of mine.
I’m not sure what this says about me, but things are changing now. They tend to do that when one becomes self-aware of their problems—stubbornness, perhaps, or selfishness, or laziness, or a combination of the three. I think I know why I’ve read so many books in the past few days, and now it has all come together.
I am a verbal processor—sometimes, this translates into writing, but I’m not sure what one would call that. A literary processor? Visual processor? I don’t know. Regardless, when I keep my words inside, they get tangled, a bundle of cross wires whose frequencies don’t quite match up. It isn’t until I say the words aloud or write them down that they begin to make sense, that I begin to process, and after writing these past few paragraphs, I think I understand.
Something changed in me, has been changing. It began as an idea—a niggling in the back of my head. I have been treading water since graduation, but now a light has clicked on inside my mind, clearing away dust and sweeping the shadows back with its bright circle of illumination. For some reason, Naomi Alderman’s The Power stoked the idea deep within me, changed it from a possibility into a probability, but it wasn’t until today that it solidified and I remembered myself.
This is not the end of the road.
My future still exists, bright and free, a glinting light of cold blue winter mornings rising over the mountains. There’s more in store for me than life on the side of a quiet mountain, life on anti-depressants just to get out of bed, life with unfaithful friends and the same music and the same faces, same places. I want to go to Colorado, to California, to Japan and Korea and Ireland, to anywhere in between. I want to bring along the person I love more than life itself, more than my dreams. I want my dreams to be realized.
And there, it returns. October 28th, 2028.
I haven’t forgotten that date, and I never will. Perhaps it will get buried sometimes, as these things do, sinking into the mire of anxiety that still floats to the top of my mind sometimes, whispering things like you will never be enough and no one really likes you and why are you even alive. But no matter what, that date will resurface, along with the realization that this is not all I have. God has much planned for me; I knew it the day I heard music that made my soul take flight on wings of silver-and-gold, the day I wrote my first story and felt it flow from me like a rush of icy cold water, the day I discovered free-verse poetry and all it could do for me.
Yes, I’ve been reading a lot, but now I know why. My subconscious was pushing me forward, giving me a renewed sense of wonder and that need to write, refilling the dregs I drained after NaNoWriMo, because that’s my way of getting here, to Writer’s Overdrive, my constant and endless catalyst for processing.
And now I understand.
“What are we going to do?
We’ve opened the door, now it’s all coming through.
Tell me you see it too:
We opened our eyes, and it’s changing the view.”
—“How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”,
Florence & The Machine