The Space Between – Disconnected Thoughts on 2022

A wooden post on a rocky beach at Cape Forchu, Nova Scotia. The post is covered with handpainted signs, each one listing a place somewhere else in the world (Brazil, Perth, South Korea) and the approximate distance away. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

They’re all weird years now. Let’s just get that out of the way first, and then we can move on.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I started 2022 vaguely dissatisfied with my writing. It wasn’t the specific stories I was trying to tell (or, rather, it wasn’t the one specific story I’d been trying to write since sometime in 2020), but just… my writing, in general. 

When I finished that draft, I made a brief-but-promising attempt to rework a previous novel, then set it aside after a couple of chapters. I don’t think I’ve looked at the file for the new novel since the day in March when I finally typed ‘the end.’

At this point, I’ve pretty much given up on novels entirely. 

But I’ve outlined and finished one story (that isn’t a novel), and even if it’s not perfect (it couldn’t be, it was always meant to be more practice than an actual finished work, but it’s got potential), I’m starting to put together a plan for the rewrite. And I’ve finished planning the next, ready to start the detailed outline in January. All in less time than it took to finish any draft of any novel I’ve ever tried to write.

This path is more difficult. The odds of success are significantly lower.

And it’s fantastic. My writing has never been better. I haven’t loved the writing process this much since… 2014, at least. 

The thing is, my relationship with the internet—with blogging, with social media, with scrolling idly through my phone—keeps shifting. I’m still finding the balance but these days, if I have to choose, I’m going to choose stepping away from the screen and doing things rather than talking about them online. 

That said, I do want to find a better balance. I want to share more, both here and elsewhere. 

I’m feeling good about photography again.

It’s taken a while to get off this particular plateau, but… yeah. This is the year that I remembered how much I really, truly love having a camera in my hands.

Some of it is just increased skill—I’ve been making more of an effort to learn (and then apply) some of the technical skills that I’ve always felt I was missing. And I can see that it’s paying off.

But mostly, it’s that I’ve gotten more thoughtful about my photography. I’ve gotten better at pausing, at setting up the composition and light before I make the photo. I’m more patient, more willing to walk away when the conditions aren’t right, to come back on a day when the sun’s not so oppressively bright or the tide’s not out so far.

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing, I suppose: did I start putting more effort in because I fell in love with photography again, or did I fall in love with photography again when I started putting the work in?


I read fewer books this year than last, and watched more movies. Both of these things were intentional.

My media diet isn’t quite where I’d like it to be yet—too many of the books I’m reading are still utterly forgettable, and it was November before I managed to rebuild a movie-watching habit I’m happy with—but I’m getting there. 

I know I’ve talked a bit about learning to knit this year, but I think I only briefly mentioned the why of it all. Because I never thought of knitting as something I could do—I tried to learn once, as a child, but it didn’t take. I’ve spent my entire life believing that I didn’t have the coordination or that it was somehow too complicated.

But early this year, I started thinking about finding a low-pressure creative hobby. Specifically, I wanted something that (with a little practice) could keep my hands busy while I watched a movie or listened to a podcast—something that would keep me from picking up my phone in those slow moments when my attention drifted. Something that I could pick up and put down without a lot of effort (or mess). And I wanted the end result to be useful in some way; I’ve been putting so much effort into clearing out clutter, I didn’t want to end up with an apartment full of trinkets, however pretty. 

I thought about crochet, and macramé. I settled on knitting.

It turns out, YouTube is a more patient teacher than I had as a child. 

And… it turns out that knitting is a really good hobby for me. It’s done wonders for my attention span: if a pattern is simple enough, I can knit and still focus on a movie, and I stopped playing a couple of mindlessly-addictive games without even meaning to. (You know the ones: you pick up your phone to check a message and you’ve suddenly lost half an hour without noticing.) It’s even helping with my perfectionist tendencies—I’m still very much a beginner, and I’m teaching myself as I go. It’s surprisingly easy to accept when certain techniques don’t come easily to me on the first try. As I type this, I’ve been practicing one particular skill for a full month and I’m still not tempted to give up.

I’m trying to apply that same philosophy to other parts of my life. It’s sort of working.

The thought I keep coming back to is this: I’m remembering who I’ve always been.

It’s been building for a few years, but 2022 was the year it really started to come into focus for me. How much stuff—physical and otherwise—I’ve been carrying around that doesn’t fit me or the life I dreamed of. The novels I wrote because I’d told myself that was the easiest (or only) path to becoming a ‘real’ writer (whatever that means). The frustration with my photography. All the literal boxes of stuff that I’ve been slowly packing and hauling off to charity shops and recycling depots. (Serious question: why did I have more than one set of salad bowls?) 

I expected the changes to be difficult, but they haven’t been. Every time I’ve let go of one of those things, I’ve felt a little lighter, a little more like myself.

I can see it in the stories I’m writing and the photos I’m taking. I can see it in the clothes I’m wearing and hear it in the music I’m listening to. I can see it in the goals I’m setting for next year and beyond. There’s a thread connecting it all, leading back to a weird little girl with pockets full of quartz and seaglass and fool’s gold.

I’m going to keep following that thread, see where it goes from here.

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