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.
Welcome to September. A few days late, but time is still weird so I’m not going to worry about it too much.
July was another slow month. It wasn’t bad, exactly—it was probably the most productive and creative month I’ve had since this whole thing started—but it didn’t live up to my hopes going in.
It’s not really an issue with the work I’ve been doing. It’s that there’s still a disconnect between my plans and expectations and the reality of the situation. My good days have gotten so much better than they were back in April or May, and my bad days aren’t nearly as bad as they were (I don’t spend nearly as much time staring into the void these days), but still.
June wasn’t the most productive month, even by pandemic standards.
But I’m ok with that. I needed the time to regroup and reset so I can get out of the weird holding pattern of the last few months and get back to work.
Before COVID-19, I’d occasionally think about renting a vacation cottage somewhere, or booking a hotel room on the other side of town, and locking myself away for a few days to write. I’d daydream about another (quasi-)spontaneous weekend away, getting lost and taking photos and not thinking about anything else. A DIY creative retreat, with nothing to do but make art.
For the first time since March, I was able to start thinking about fiction again, and start taking photos again, and in the last two weeks or so I’ve even been able to concentrate for more than ten minutes at a time. This was the month that I started to feel like an actual, functional, creative, human being again.
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
Over the last few weeks, one of my writing friends and I have been talking (emailing) about trying to do creative work right now, in this world. About how difficult it is to get into the flow of it, and how deep work is almost impossible. Routines are shot to hell; writing time is being swallowed up by new chores. Money’s tight, and art feels a bit frivolous. Tempers are fraying, ennui is setting in, and it’s just really hard to think of good stories right now, ok?
“I’m looking forward to March,” I said. “It’s going to be a good month,” I said.
Wow. So… I should know better than to tempt fate like that, I guess?