I don’t think I’ve opened up my own site for almost two years, which is terrible for a writer. To say that I was shocked that anyone had visited the site recently was an understatement. Hello to the many visitors from Germany, also a surprise! Briefly a few years ago, I had an spike in people from Brazil, but no one from there has visited lately so no need for a shout-out. Simply put though, to have anyone interested in reading my random thoughts fills me with happiness on this overcast, drizzly morning.
There are times when joy is hard to find, and for the last couple of years I lost it a bit. I would try to write, but nothing that came out was any good, or excited me enough to be able to transfer that excitement onto the page. I went back to working in an office for the second half of last year which ended up being a turning point. Finding out that I still had useful skills increased my confidence, while sitting at a desk sorting out other people’s issues showed me how lucky I had been, being able to immerse myself in whatever I found interesting, no matter how tangential to to the subject I was researching.
By the end of the year, I finally realised that what I wanted to do, more than anything else, was to be able to inhabit my own thoughts and explore issues that work left me too tired and brain dead to think about. To have the freedom to do what I want is a luxury, and I finally gained a true appreciation for it, rather than it being something I did between wrangling children. Getting back to doing what I enjoy has also made me less cranky, much to my family’s relief.
So currently I have three very different works in progress and they are all going well. An “after the fairytale ended” novel about the complicated relationships between sisters, an elves-as-metaphor book about trying to turn your life around and revisiting a half-finished work about whistleblowers and reworking it to examine what would happen if current wealth inequality continues and we find cures for many of the conditions of aging. If wealth becomes even further consolidated in a few individuals, what would this mean for society? Lockdown has been great for my productivity. Now the kids are back at school, it should hopefully take off and I’ll finally have something finished this year.
I thought I’d make a comment about the state of the world, but it feels too hard. There are big complicated issues all seeming to be being raised at once, and I find myself at a loss to really understand any of them enough to comment. There are so many shouty headlines that all nuanced, balanced discussion has been lost in a sea of anger. Though this is, of course, a huge simplification, it feels like when close friends have a nasty relationship breakup. Both sides are telling you how horrible the other is, giving past examples of how the other has greatly wronged them (excessive use of force by police, like violence in any relationship, is clearly indefensible). There is nothing you can say that will magically make everything better, nothing that you can do that will make the pain go away. I don’t know what to do, except listen and try to understand, even if there is no right answer or clear path forward. Systematic racism, relations with China, COVID-19 response, economic recession, global warming, sexism, terrorism, homophobia, rise of nationalism – there is so much to worry about, so many different agendas and people trying to convince you of their points of view that a retreat into a world of my own creation is a quiet relief.
So while there are terrible things happening that need to be thought about and actioned, there are still things that we can hold onto to try to keep some joy in our lives. Books, music, art, a new puppy, cleaner air and water, a new baby in the family, movies, a long walk on a sunny day, friendships, loved ones, flowers, cake! Finding a respite is essential, so that the big issues don’t overwhelm and lead to inertia. I hope that amongst all of this, you too can find something that brings you happiness. Maybe not retriever-in-a-field-of-flowers happy, but we’re only human.