Sketchbook #59

Footpath in a forest. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

I didn’t want to write this post. 

I wanted to be able to write about how I wrote every day—or at least most days—in October, and about how happy I am with the progress I’m making on Birthday Girl. I wanted to be able to write about settling into a good routine, at the very least.

But I can’t write about any of that, so this is the post I’m writing instead.

Birthday Girl is moving forward. More slowly than I’d like, but I do feel like I’ve settled into the story and things are progressing the way they’re supposed to. (Mostly. I have had a few days where it feels like the story has gone off the rails and the subplots have taken over, but that’s just because it’s taking me so long to write the thing. I’ve been living in these few scenes for a month, when the reader will breeze through them in fifteen minutes.) 

Considering how many days I’ve skipped writing entirely lately… I’m just happy to see any progress at all. 

And I’m genuinely happy with the photos I took in October. More than that: I’m happy that I took photos in October, and that they’re not all terrible.

It’s mostly thanks to Lucy. For some reason, her appetite disappeared in the middle of the month. (She’s a very food-motivated cat and considers it her duty to clean her dish as fast as possible, so I worry when she won’t finish a meal.) She’s fine. I still don’t know what made her lose interest in eating (cats can just do that sometimes, apparently?), but a few doses of anti-nausea medication and an appetite stimulant later, and she’s back to her demanding self. But since we didn’t know how many vet visits the whole thing would require—turns out it was just the one—we had access to a car for a few days, and my first opportunity in two years to get out of the city. (In a responsible, socially-distant way: almost no interaction with people outside of the household bubble, and what interaction there was was masked. Obviously.)

So it was a fantastic month for photography. I’m still editing the photos—and will be for a while yet—but they exist to be edited, and that’s more than I can say for all the photos I didn’t take over the summer.

And, really, that’s my plan for the rest of the year: write what I can, when I can. Take the photos that I can, when I can. Start building habits and systems that’ll carry me through 2021.

That’s the key. I was blindsided by this year, and as much as I’ve tried, I’ve had a hard time finding my artistic footing again, a hard time figuring out how to make art under these conditions. And that’s fine. I’m willing to give myself some leeway here. 

But I’m not going to have that excuse next year. The world is still going to suck—hopefully a little less than it does right now—and I’m going to have to figure this stuff out. I refuse to keep spinning my wheels.

I’ve started making some tentative plans already, and I’ve been experimenting with some different planner setups (still sticking with the general bullet journal concept, but adding a bit of structure, because I need it right now). I’ve been modifying my long-term goals—they’re still scary and ambitious, and they haven’t really changed that much, but now they’re designed for this world, instead of an alternate universe that branched off from this one in March 2020.

It doesn’t feel like much, but it’s a start.