This is what vulnerability looks like (a brief note)

It’s difficult to write without inspiration, and lately, I’ve been experiencing a dearth of inspiration.

Usually, this means that everything has been going rather swimmingly in life, because otherwise I’d be a bundle of complicated ‘feels’ dying for an outlet for emotional outpour.

Tis the Catch-22 of writing: there’s no writing without experiencing some degree of distress. And yet, not being able to write for extended periods of time stresses me out as well; it’s a hollowing feeling, not having ‘output’, even though most of what I write is just diaristic catharsis masquerading as erudite essays. Ha. 

But hey, I’m writing now, so does that mean I’ve been going through some roadblocks in life lately? Well, yes and no, depending on what your definition of ‘roadblocks in life’ is. Without revealing too much, let’s just say that I’ve been forced to adjust and reflect on some of my personal values and relationships these days. It’s difficult, because at 23 years old, I’m quite certain that my values system is pretty much set, so asking myself to adjust it isn’t exactly an overnight kind of project. 

The other ‘roadblock’ that I’d like to share, though, and one that is more relevant to the nature of this blog as a bibliographic record, deserves to be conveyed in the form of a confession. So, here goes – confession:

It’s taken me 3 months – yes, you read that right – 3 whole months, to plough through one book, and at this point, I’m still only halfway through it.

What the hell. Such progress is almost unheard of in my history of reading, and I can’t help but feel rather ashamed about this. Saint Augustine, where art thou. The vexing book in question is Joyce Carol Oates’ We are the Mulvaneys, which is a family saga that centres on how the rape of the Mulvaney daughter slowly disintegrates relations both within the family and between the family members and their surrounding New England community.

It’s an engaging plot, the writing is human, and while it isn’t the shortest of novels (400+ pages), I’ve definitely finished books of similar length in half the time I’ve been spending on this Oates book.

Really, then, I don’t know what my problem is. I can’t even remember the last time I spent that long on a novel. At one point last week, I seriously considered abandoning it and taking up a, uh, novel venture with a Houellebecq book, but for reasons of pride, I jettisoned that idea and sallied forth with Oates, which is why I’m still reading it.

It’s going slowly, though, very slowly. Annoyingly slowly.

I hate it when real life gets in the way of me living virtual lives.

It’s been more than 2 years since I started ‘Classic Jenisms’, and one of the biggest reasons as to why I insist on keeping this blog alive (despite periods of hiatus) is because it gives me a space to scrutinise, share and come to terms with my vulnerabilities and imperfections. It may seem silly, but my inability to finish reading a book, to opt for commute snoozing and web browsing over picking up a book, makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and imperfect.

Are these the self-indulgent words of a First-world bibliophilic perfectionist? Perhaps, but at least I can take solace in my willingness to lay bare this moment of weakness with the world, which is the one thing that’s making me feel slightly better about my choo-choo train reading progress these days.


One thought on “This is what vulnerability looks like (a brief note)

  1. I think I first started loving self–implicating writing in John Donne’s love poems: the way the speaker in The Flea implores his beloved to agree to an exercise in metaphorical gymnastics to get her to sleep with him, a plea about which we never find out (in the context of the poem) whether it succeeded or not.

    Makes for being human, admitting your mistakes.


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