Not Another Hiatus...!
Man, have I been slacking! What happened to September and October?
I wish I could say I've been burning up my keyboard, staying up at all hours of the night, waking with the sun, getting loads of writing done. In reality, so much life has happened, I've found myself behind on a lot of my writing goals. I talk a lot about life and its tendency to "get in the way" of writing. It doesn't feel right to say that anymore, considering a great deal of the free time I used to have has been filled with all the good things you could imagine: children, for example, and all the hustle and bustle involved with getting them places, making them healthy dinners, bath time and brushing teeth, reading them stories and putting them to bed. Finding time to engage in adult conversation with my husband and friends, and discussing mental health issues and the effects of COVID this year has put upon us has been more important than ever. All of my free time is filled with large responsibilities, and the tiny cracks left behind are also stuffed with smaller tasks.
Then there's my job.
(*Obviously, neither of these ladies is me, but they are my spirit animals in so many ways.)
I'm a working mother, as I've mentioned before, and I work at a public library. I love my job, but it's just another aspect of life that's gotten in the way of my craft. As can be imagined, working in any public sector right now is tough. Combine that fact with the high-contact, already germ-ridden environment that is working behind the reference desk of a public library, and you've got a recipe for one stressed-out mama. I plan to write more in-depth about what it's like working at a public library in a later post, but let me say this: people are exhausting.
My job was closed to the public for three months, and not surprisingly it was during that time I was able to crank out the majority of the content this blog contains. We still, however, were tending to a curbside pickup operation, which meant pulling books, answering phones, and processing materials all day long. There was quite a bit more down time, but I still had a pretty stressful job to do. Now that my branch has opened back up to the public, there are more steps to everything: wiping books down, quarantining materials, shifting hours of operation on a bi-weekly basis, moving stuff around, hand sanitizer and gloves and masks and the rules changing every five seconds. As a nursing mother, I've had to fit gathering milk in between all of that. At night, I'm so tired I've barely been able to conjure the energy to write at that time, which is unfortunate, considering it's the only good chunk of uninterrupted time I have to write (even though, as I've mentioned in a previous post, I write better in the morning). Every nook and cranny of my time is filled with to-dos. Basically, I don't have the brain power to do it all right now.
I'm okay with that. I'm giving myself a lot of grace this year, learning to let go of things I can't control. Being kinder to myself has been great for my mental state, but rough on my writing process. I'm a go, go, go writer, setting a goal and then completing it, no excuses. This blog post, for example, has been weeks in the making, and should have been done in an hour or less.
The goals I had for 2020 were as follows:
1. Shop We Are Eternal to a publisher who takes already-published works (fell through)
2. Complete second draft for Way Down Low (slow going) 3. Pick up where I left off in my story set in Ireland, using all the notes and experience I gained from my trip there last year (I... honestly don't even know where that manuscript is right now) As you can see, I'm failing in my goals. But am I failing as a writer? I don't think so. I think, given the conditions of this year -- both on a collective and personal level -- I'm actually doing pretty damn well. This blog has taken off and I've managed to produce content every month since picking it back up in April (we'll just ignore September and October). I'm fine with restructuring my goals, as long as I can stick with them... which I'm afraid I can't. I don't like setting goals if I don't think I can achieve them; I've got a slight perfectionist tendency, combined with the inertia that results from fear of failures small or large. Consequentially, I end up sitting around doing nothing, surrounded by well-curated, organized lists of things I need to do at a reasonable timeline that I still somehow fall behind on. It's frustrating being so organized and disorganized at the same time!
Organized chaos -- that's the environment I find myself in over and over again. Do I prefer it? Not necessarily. Do I work best in it? Probably. I've always produced great content with a fire under my butt and a close impending deadline. Would I like to be more organized? Absolutely. I'll get there, once life gets a little more normal.
In the meantime, I'm just glad I've been able to write these words.