Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Washing floors, anyone?

I know I promised to reveal my four secrets to a successful story on this blog, one secret at a time, but that was a  month ago. As everyone has noted, that was another life. We have entered a period of surreal, suspended animation. As my daughter calls it, it's as if the world has stopped. And in many ways it has. All our daily routines and activities have changed, replaced by constant email, text, and phone conversations and non-stop news. A trip to the grocery story is now a huge excursion, and as Aline said, the highlight may be that daily walk. In my case several walks since I have two dogs, but now the walks are around the same few neighbourhood blocks. Gone are the parks and trails I used to take them on, because in their wisdom the National Capital Commission that runs them all has shut them down to avoid crowding. So now there is no quiet, serene place to avoid the crowds.

Life is not normal, and people are distracted and discombobulated. As writers, we are all struggling to find focus, to find our characters in the desert of our imagination, and to sink into that oblivion that we call the creative zone. I have all the time in the world, I tell myself, and surely this is not so different from my usual hermit life. So I've been pushing myself and berating myself for my meagre output and for my desire to wash the floors (yes, wash the floors!) just to put off picking up the pen.

And then I found this article on Facebook. It's very human and full of understanding, hope, and sound advice. The author wrote it for her fellow academics but it applies equally to us writers. To anyone whose work comes from within their own head. Judging from her story, I assume she has lived through war and terror, and has now found safe haven in Canada, and so she knows a thing or two about disrupted lives. Canada has never had a war on its own soil (discounting the war of 1812, which was very localized and very long ago), and so people born in Canada have no experience facing the kind of trauma and turmoil that much of the world has lived through. We have much we can learn from the refugees who have chosen our country, in terms of resilience and wisdom.

So I decided now is not the time to blog about the third secret to a successful story. Someday – I have no idea when – I will return to it, but it's not what we need right now.

This is what we need.


Christine said...

Thanks, Barbara, and what a great article you linked to. I found it really helpful in my own non-productive state!

Aline Templeton said...

A very wise article. For more good advice, in a shorter form, go to #WeeGranny on Twitter. It's cheered me up enormously.

Rick Blechta said...

Thank you! Wise words -- all of them.

Barbara Fradkin said...

The article is wise indeed. In a sense, it gave me permission to be a flake. This will pass, but be kind to yourself.