My New Year’s resolution has nothing to do with writing. Well—not directly, anyway. It has to do with reading.
About 2 ½ years ago, my cell phone died. I visited the Verizon store, tugging on phones attached to cables, tapping screens, pushing buttons, looking for the perfect match. When I found it, I waved the customer service rep over and told him I’d like “this one, without the data plan.”
“Um—this one doesn’t come without a data plan.”
“Well, which one can I get that doesn’t have a data plan?”
“You mean—you just want a talk/text phone?” He seemed dubious. This was apparently not a common request.
“Yes, just a regular phone. Without the Internet.”
He steered me to a lonely corner, where a sad little flip phone awaited, like the orphan who knows he will never be chosen.
I ended up with an iPhone. A $30 data plan. The world at my fingertips. And, just as I’d feared, an irresistible, time-sucking device. Coveted moments at night–when my son has drifted off to sleep and I lie burrowed in quiet comfort–used to be reserved for reading novels; now it was time spent scrolling through writerly blogs, parenting ezines, online literary magazines, Twitter feeds, Facebook, and Yahoo! News.
It’s still reading, I told myself. Essays, short fiction, very important news, advice, interviews, information.
But it’s not the same. There’s no substitute for reading books, and I’m not reading enough of them. It’s not my iPhone’s fault, or technology’s, or Twitter’s—it’s my fault. I’m horribly undisciplined when it comes to time management. My contract is up, and soon I may just go shopping for a feature phone. I hear they’re in demand lately.
As for my New Year’s resolution, I’ve committed to reading one book per week, starting with Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s January 1, two in the afternoon, and already I’m on chapter four. This should be an easy resolution to keep.