Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield
Like many a nitwit in quarantine, I was at first optimistic about my productivity. I suddenly had no plans. Obligations evaporated. My social calendar emptied out. I’d get so much done. Life would finally slow down and I’d have time for everything I’d wanted to focus on but was too busy.
Then I had to homeschool three gremlins.
Then I was working in a bookstore pivoting to a phones-ringing-off-the-hook fulfilment center so fast it gave me whiplash.
Then, far from being isolated, I never had a single conscious moment to myself.
What a little idiot I was. What hubris. But it wasn’t as simple as being busy or mentally paralyzed because teaching me a hard life lesson is never that straightforward. I keep thinking I didn’t write at all over the last six months. I keep thinking I was totally unproductive and uncreative. I keep thinking I had a great summer, camping, swimming, and shaking the absolute shit out of fancy craft cocktails. I keep thinking that overall it hasn’t been so bad, that I’ve been okay.
Yet I did write two short stories, a novella, and query a publisher
Yet I did edit two books
Yet my buoyant moods are fragile, I’m latching hard onto anything I can hold up as proof of my uselessness, and I drink soooo much.
I’m a runner, right? It’s my medicine, meditation, religion, and all my goddamned races got cancelled. Adventures in the mountains bursting with mud, suffering, exhaustion, and camaraderie by the light of my dim junky headlamp. I’ve been running, of course. What the fuck else is there to do besides attend some shitty virtual hangout where everyone is awkward and looks like garbage and I’m so self-conscious I spend most of the time staring at myself on camera wondering if I’ve always been this ugly. So I run. I signed up for virtual challenges and did a self-directed urban ultra-marathon. I’ve been running more than ever.
But I don’t feel fit.
But I feel worn out.
But I feel sick sometimes and hate my face.
Anger? Is anger the right response? It feels better than despair. How many nuanced emotions are realistically available under these circumstances? Anger is the spearhead. It drives forward with purpose and a message. Aren’t these detonations nothing more than angry little letters to a disappointing world full of assholes? I guess this one is for me. I did not lose my job. My family is safe and healthy. What do I have to complain about? Suck it up, there are people with REAL problems out there.
I guess what I am is sad and bored.
I guess it’s harder to find happiness in the dark.
I guess the heading to this post should’ve had a question mark because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing or what the fuck to do.
I guess…I need a better damn headlamp.