This week, I’ve been having another of my ‘reading deprivation’ weeks (see Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). I put the term in inverted commas because I have to read as part of my job. In theory, you’re supposed to avoid all reading, all television, all recorded spoken sound (i.e.; radio news). You can listen to instrumental music, look at paintings or sculptures, and talk to other people. The idea is to give your brain a rest from stories, and being sucked in by them. For writers, anyway, because stories are absent for a week, you’re compelled to make up your own.
I’ve been listening to music on the trains to and from work. Kraftwerk, which once upon a time, I wouldn’t have bothered with, but I found it great for losing myself in. For one thing, it’s loud enough to hear over the whine of the tracks and the boom of the tannoys. And Oasis. I never realized how joyous their songs are (but about twice as loud as anybody else’s). I’ve listened to odd bits of jazz, but I find it difficult to grips with. I do like a tune.
It’s been weird, though, seeing exhausted passengers while you’re ipod’s playing. The dried sweat on their faces, the hair plastered to their scalps.
At the start of the week, the reading deprivation made me feel angry. A lot of feelings were boiling up inside of me. I felt like a smoker at a funeral, counting the seconds at the service so that he can go out and light a cigarette, because he’s gasping. Definite withdrawal symptoms. I know that, when I do start reading for pleasure again, I will enjoy it.
For a while, the anger and negativity made me attract the bad stuff. I’ve met more than one awkward bleeder this week. The old woman who kept moaning and moaning about not being lucky in life, then getting stuck in the lift on her way out (I defy you not to laugh). And then the two drunks who decided to start on me, and call me a prick.
I told them to leave, and when they wouldn’t I called the police, even though, strictly speaking, my superior should have done it. I rang 999 in panic. As I was ringing, those two germs bravely stood at the counter jeering at me. As soon as I put the receiver down, they walked off, throwing a paper ball at me for added humiliation. Ten minutes later, the police at the local station rang to see whether the two drunks were still there, and whether I still wanted help. As I was speaking, the call was cut off.
By the time I reached the end of the week, I was beginning to get used to reading-deprivation. It felt like a detox, and I had more energy, more enthusiasm. I can’t honestly say that I’ve found the golden idea I’ve been looking for, or that I’ve started a brand new project; but I have felt happier, saner, more stable. I’m steadily filling in my Writing Practice notebook, and I’m becoming happier, more contented. Maybe I had to get rid of all the bad stuff, like a fever.