I’ve taken a step back from writing recently – that’s what the pros call it, isn’t it? A break, a step back, focussed my energies elsewhere. This is what people call it when they have a handle on their life or at least pretend they have a handle on their life and believe in fake it till you make it.
I despised these people for a while. now I envy them.
A lot of this past year has left me feeling like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, in that bit when he’s spinning out and can hear the helicopter above him (massive para-remembering here) except my experience was not drug fuelled and the sound of the helicopter was the theme tune for Finding Nemo at 7.30 in the morning. But I sure did a lot of squinting, alternating big eye and little eye in an attempt to get a grip and at least think about getting out of my pyjamas.
I also did a lot of things that are already becoming cliched 2020 things – I homeschooled, I built a veg patch and thought about planting things. We got a dog. I’m very lucky.
But I also experienced other things that are already sadly becoming part of the cliched 2020 experience, thought it destroys me to think that such things become so commonplace that they already feel tired to write about. I tried to hold my family together with Zoom style pub quizzes, I watched older relatives suffer alone, fret about doctor’s appointments. I felt guilty about not being there, because that would be the boldest sacrifice to make, to fling a suitcase together and move in. But I didn’t. I grieved for a relative who couldn’t get the help they needed because of the ‘ongoing situation’ and died. I felt my asthma creep up again and again and grip hold of my lungs, uninvited. Not a good time to have an exacerbation.
I tried to hold it together. I specialise in writing characters who look as if they are holding it together and being very brave. This year, I became one of my characters.
And about three moths into trying to be good, a do my Duolingo, and my Yoga and writing, yes my writing! I stopped doing all of it.
And now the worlds has shifted ever so slightly again; my son is back at school (reluctantly) and I meditated this morning. Really badly, but I sat there for fifteen minutes waiting for my head to stop thinking about drag queens. I did a Spanish lesson. And then I thought about writing.
But what to write about when nothing has happened? Well, when so much has happened but none of it is what I want to write about? I’m trying to bizarro myself – my natural instinct would be to keep hurling myself at the page like a bird at a window until one of us breaks.
But this time I’m sitting it out. I will do my journalling. I am very slowly editing a piece of theatre – maybe two lines a day. And as soon as I get the inkling to do something else (which usually happens within the first five minutes of writing)I am walking as far away from it as I can. This year has sucked all the grit out of me and if my writing pace is geriatric as a result, so be it.
The veg patch out the back still contains no vegetables, just mud. But inevitably, there are weeds and things pushing through the surface.
Green shoots. Upwards. More cliches, but still.