It seems I never have enough hours in the day to do all the things I’d like. Because I stay home with my two-year old, one would think I’d be able to work everything in. But just because I don’t go to a job outside the home, that doesn’t mean I’m not a busy lady. Mornings are for teaching my daughter, Kyra, whatever I can and working in a little Elmo time. Afternoons are reserved for naptime, and if I’m not under pressure to get a particular thing done, I’ll nap too (I have chronic fatigue syndrome and insomnia, a terrible combo. Good sleep and I parted ways years ago). Usually, however, I’m either working on an article for the local newspaper or on whichever art project I have going on at the moment–right now it’s a sketchbook for the Moleskine sketchbook project, which will take my artwork and hundreds of others on a tour of art houses/museums across the country early next year–or writing, or doing homework (I’m in my second semester at the Academy of Art University), or cleaning the house. When Kyra gets up, we’ll either do an art project together or play outside, depending on the weather. And before I know it, it’s time to start the dinner/bath ritual. If I’m lucky, I might get to spend an hour or two with the hubs (unless I have homework to finish, which is usually the case), and then it’s bedtime.
So, unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of time anymore to devote to reading. Before I became a mommy, I read every single day, and could finish a 3-400 page book in a couple of hours. Now I’m lucky if I get to read for pleasure once a month, and I miss it. I can’t be alone in this; I know far too many working moms who never have time to themselves. But ladies, we can carve out a little bit of “me” time! We have to, or else we run the risk of finding those pesky premature gray hairs.
Luckily, I’m a fan of short stories, and I reccommend them to anyone who has too much going on during an average week.
Being a fan of Stephen King, of course I’ve read all his short story collections, and there are some favorites that I’ll go back to every once in a while; I’m particularly fond of Skeleton Crew and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. If you’re a horror fan, these should appeal to you, but sometimes King’s best stories aren’t about the things that go bump in the night. Take “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” (Different Seasons), for instance. It inspired a wonderful movie on good writing alone, without depending on gore or thrills.
If King doesn’t appeal to you, no worries. Lots of writers have given the short story a go. In fact, that’s where most of us start out. There are some great collections of short stories out there. A good friend of mine, Todd Rigney, just put together his own collection, Twelve. Todd is a visionary and someone I look up to, because he stays completely true to himself when it comes to his writing and what he wants to convey. His work is always infallible.
If you don’t have time to visit a bookstore, there are still options available to you. Those of us who are constantly on the go almost always carry a cell phone, and with the invention of smart phones, we can now read a book while waiting at the doctor’s office or at the DMV. Barnes and Noble recently launched Nook, which is a device similar to Amazon’s Kindle. Nook has an app for the Android smartphone which allows the reader to download several free “classics” and short story collections without having to buy the device.
(I should mention here that while I think digital books have their advantages, I can’t bring myself to buy one. I love my books way too much to give them up and the thought of bound books going by the wayside terrifies me. Let’s not allow technology to take everything from us, shall we?)
At any rate, I always feel better when I shake off a stressful day and allow myself time to read, even if it’s just a piece of flash fiction. You don’t have to run out and buy Anna Karenina; but finding a way to carve out some time to yourself is essential. Reading has always been my getaway; if I can sympathize with a character or let myself fall into a setting, even for an hour, I feel rejuvenated. If your life is as full as mine, your mind will thank you later for giving it a break.