Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Creeping cautiously into the future

 There's been a funny theme on Type M recently about all the ways in which life, technology, and other elements out of our control have been interfering with our ability to do our job. Be it the electronic devices on which we write our brilliant prose, those on which we promote it, or the brain circuitry that gets it all started, everything seems to be going awry.  

I feel as if it's been that way for almost a year and a half. Due to looming deadlines, I have managed to finish one novel and get one hundred pages written (and I use that term loosely) on the next - this despite all book events being cancelled and no vacations or get togethers with family or friends - but it's been a very disjointed, at times half-hearted struggle, and I am not confident in the result.

Some activities are returning to normal but I think many of us feel like a prisoner walking through the prison gates into the unfamiliar sunshine. Filled with both joy and trepidation. The whole world is suddenly open to us, except for those parole restrictions. What to do next? How to plan? How to structure our day? Some people are responding with a frenzy of pent-up activity - shopping, restaurants, socializing. Others are creeping cautiously into the light. 

I have started returning to my cottage and to the family gatherings that always marked my summer. Right now I have two of my three children and their families at the cottage, and we are all catching up on lost time. My days are consumed with cooking, washing up, swimming, canoeing, and sitting together over wine. 

Meanwhile, my lake association has resumed activities, with a Zoom exec meeting yesterday and an assignment to write two articles for the upcoming newsletter this week. Promised get togethers with friends are coming due and my calendar is getting complicated.

I know, given all that people have been through this year, I am extraordinarily lucky. But on the work front, I'm a dismal failure. I have not opened the file on my latest manuscript in weeks. And here I am in a rare moment of me time, writing this obligatory blog instead of tackling the book. My brain is no longer used to life in such high gear. I am worried that I have lost the thread of this book, if not my creative ability altogether.

I hope once I actually start reviewing what I have read and thinking about next steps, my creative muse will come back for a visit. It usually does, after it has given me enough time to worry.


Tanya said...

Barbara, don't be too hard on yourself. I've been having similar difficulties focusing on my editing work. It seems to take much longer to "wrap my brain" around a chapter and identify what needs to be done and what I want to communicate to the author. I have to work in small chunks of time (about an hour and a half), take a break, and then get back at it. I've spoken with a number of editor/writer friends about this, and all but one seem to be experiencing some blocks and trouble with focus. I suspect that our brains are simply tired out from all the worry, frustrations, and disruptions of the past year and a half. Keep hugging the family and watching those sunsets, and hang in there!

Barbara Fradkin said...

You are so right, Tanya. We are mentally worn out and distracted. But it does get worrying when deadlines draw nearer! But the old technique - one step at a time - does work. I just keep chipping away at the tasks.