Be Careful What You Give Up

readingI know not everyone will relate to this, but I’ve made it a practice to give up things for Lent.  Every year I pick one or two things I consider to be important, and try to give them up for the seven weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  I’ve done this for years, with varying degrees of success.

This year, I had the bright idea to give up fiction.  For seven weeks, I would give up all fiction but my own.  Books, television, audio books…all fiction.

First, let me say I didn’t give up fiction because I consider it to be bad.  Quite the contrary.  I knew I loved fiction so much it was going to be a real sacrifice.  And I’ll admit I was hoping the “fast” would force me to focus on my writing.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

To be honest, it’s been an interesting experience.  I don’t think I ever really understood how vital fiction was in my life.  That was pretty stupid.  After all, fiction is what I do.  Not only do I write, but I read constantly – fiction – and listen to audio books – also fiction.  If I watch television (which I don’t do too often), I’m usually watching movies.  Fiction, fiction everywhere.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve still been reading and listening to audio books, but I’ve confined myself strictly to non-fiction.  For the most part I’ve stuck with history, books on writing, and spiritual/self-improvement-y type stuff.

I knew I used fiction as a way to escape after dealing with the usual crap all day.  I didn’t realize it was essential for my mental stability.  I don’t think that’s bad.  Sometimes you just need to be swept up in lives that aren’t your own and taken away from what’s ailing you.  Most non-fiction doesn’t do that for me.  It’s too fact-oriented.  Plus, it really happened, so there’s no fantasy.

I was also surprised to realize how much I learn from fiction.  To be honest, I’m feeling kind of browbeaten by my strict diet of non-fiction.  Everyone is so serious and…certain. 

Fiction tends to teach you more obliquely.  See this person?  See what they’re doing?  Let’s watch and see what happens to them…

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Non-fiction is awesome.  But I’m more than ready to have my fiction back too.  I need the balance it brings me.

I guess my point is – be careful what you give up.  You never know how important it is to you until it’s gone.

Can someone read a novel and let me smell your fiction breath?



  1. Eek! I knew you had given up fiction reading and audiobooks. I had no idea you included movies and tv!!! O. M. G. Woman…. You have strength and fortitude beyond compare! Good news that you’re almost there, and congrats on staying strong. There’s no way I could have done that! *toasting a glass* You totally rock!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Lynda K: LOL Lynda! I am completely NUTS! I had no idea it would be this difficult – I thought “Okay, well I’ll just use non-fictiion” But trust me, it ain’t the same. I’ve almost made it…almost…..eeeeeee…..

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