Okay, so August was supposed to be the month where I read four books – after all, I had two whole weeks off, so why not?

First, I had two really busy weeks at work, which involved loads of writing and trying to do everything I needed to get done before my time off. I also had to work on some long-term projects – you know, those important but not urgent ones that always get put on the back burner.

Then, finally, two glorious weeks off.

Well, I was feeling pretty cruddy when I went to see The Crucible, but I was determined to go – I mean, Richard Armitage! But I spent the rest of the week ill. When you have a chronic illness – like ME/CFS (even if it’s a mild/moderate case) – you need to pace your activities (cognitive, emotional/social and physical) otherwise you end up doing so much when you feel good, that you crash in a heap and are unable to do much of anything. This was what happened to me during week one of my time off.

Week two was better – I finished Neverwhere. It was great. Really unusual, an interesting story and well written.

Then, well, then I started Divergent. Yesterday morning I reached page 100 and decided that I am never going to read another page of it. The book is sapping my will to read, write and breathe. It so SO dull.

The annoying thing is, I think there’s the germ of an interesting story there, but it’s been smothered in pages of hellishly boring text. I’ve spent around three weeks trying to read one book and I’ve finally decided to forget it and move on. Sorry Divergent – you suck!

Habits of highly effective people

I’m in the middle of reading Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and so far it’s helped me recognise one major thing – my life is unbalanced at the moment.

The way I chose to manage my ME/CFS was to stop doing social things, limit the amount of time I spent on creative writing and to stop participating in any of my hobbies. That way I could save all of my energy for work and not have that suffer too much.

It’s not a good way of living at all. Seven Habits encourages you to find out what matters to you most, and then plan your week around activities that work towards your personal ambitions. You’re encouraged to define your own success, rather than look to others for validation and approval. It’s a very useful book and I recommend it for anyone who finds themselves stuck, or going through a period of low mood or a lack of motivation.

I’m still planning on reading Gone and The Fault in Our Stars. I’ll also make sure I work on fiction writing this month. If there’s one thing reading (well, trying to read) Divergent has shown me, it’s that you don’t have to be Dickens, Tolkien or Ali Smith to get a book published (although I’d much rather use them as a quality benchmark…)