Two years into my three-year graduate program, I burned out. Last May I could hardly bear to open the cover of a book, much less read one. Not only was that distressing as a writer, but because reading is my favorite hobby, I found myself without my usual source of sustenance and comfort. But I went with the flow. Instead of reading, I focused on swimming (another favorite hobby), took up pilates, injected some new life into my personal style, and enjoyed spending time outside in my garden.
In June, I picked up Colm Tóibín’s The Master and started to very slowly make my way through his gorgeous prose. I often read books quickly — sometimes in one sitting. I did that with Tóibín’s Brooklyn the previous January. But I’m grateful that I took my time with The Master, savoring the exquisite, intricate effects of each paragraph.
At times in graduate school, I felt reduced to my academic output. Last May’s leave of absence from the written word allowed me to be a fuller person. So important in writing. Then in June The Master guided me back to reading.
By letting go for a little while, I was able to circle home.