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May 20, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Reading Problems: Focusing

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.

With reading lists like this, who has time for weird anxieties?

With reading lists like this, who has time for weird anxieties?

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.

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