Monday, November 26, 2012

Of All the Things I've Lost, I Miss My Attention Span the Most

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and got to spend time with those they love.

I've had something on my mind lately. I wanted to see if anyone else in the writing community is experiencing this particular issue.

Back in my salad days (in the Golden Age of the 80's), I was able to read for hours at a stretch. I could read anywhere and tune out the world for as long as I wanted, spending time with Laura Ingalls and Bilbo Baggins and exploring far-off worlds that enjoyed a long life in the boundaries of my imagination.

I can't do that anymore. After a few paragraphs (if I get that far), my eyes and my brain start wandering off the book's track.

I'm not sure why. Is it that now I'm a dreadful adult and have more responsibilities tugging away at me? Do people feel more comfortable interrupting someone who is "just reading" now? Is it my attention graying along with my hair? Is it that I've run out of good books to suck me into those worlds? Or have I simply lost the ability to focus and sit still for that long?

If I lost it, where did it go? How did I lose it? I remember tearing through Kevin J. Anderson's "Saga of Seven Suns" not too many years ago. But now I have problems even finishing a much shorter Y.A. novel. My husband and I devoured the Harry Potter series as we read them aloud to each other. Now I can't seem to finish the side of a cereal box. What happened?

It bothers me deeply that I am having trouble doing something that i used to love, that used to be such a central part of my life. I was a bookworm! I still have many of those books lounging around the house. I say lounging, as I haven't touched them in many moons. It also bothers me that this lack of focus is affecting my ability to write as well. I find that I can only sit in front of the keyboard for a few minutes at a time. I can only blame so much of the distraction on my Furry Companions. Even if they aren't dancing on my keyboard because it's Kitty Nap Time, I can't seem to focus on my story for more than a few minutes before I have to be moving again. I've gotten this far by doing what I call "drive-by typing": typing for a few minutes, rushing to another part of the house to do something else, thinking of something, then typing only long enough to get those words saved on my flash drive.

Does anyone else have this problem? Has anyone seen my Attention Span? I think I dropped it somewhere and replaced it with the span of a gerbil somehow. If you happen to see it wandering by, please drop me a note.