I often lament that I don’t have the time to read as much as I want. I have to get my writing done, go to my job, finish chores, walk a dog, spend time with a husband. I look forward to things like airplane rides when I’m trapped in one spot with nothing but my book to help while away the time.
Then those moments arise, and as I try to read, try to sink into whatever book I’m working through at the moment, I can’t focus. In a different house, with the television occupied, the people I wanted to talk to off for an extended errand, the dog asleep and my car keys believed to be with previously mentioned absentees, I should have had the time to read. I should have finished reading the memoir I’m working on right now and started the novel I’d also brought along for the trip. But I could not focus. I kept thinking of vague “things” I should be doing, places I should go (though I had nowhere in mind), people I wanted nearby (though I get annoyed when they distract me).
Sitting and reading for hours, without a reason to feel guilty for it, is so rare now that I think I no longer know how to do it. I know how to read in bits, a half hour before work, in between pieces of conversation, while trying to ignore the television in a crowded room. Long, focused reading (not counting when editing my own or a critique partner’s manuscript) is a childhood skill I seem to have lost. And I want it back.