The problem isn’t that I don’t have the time, some days. It’s that I don’t have the focus. I can write – I sat down and pounded out the 600 words on Mother’s Little Helper last night in about thirty minutes after griping at the First Reader about how I didn’t want to write something based on the song prompt, and he gave me the idea for what I did write. The problem is writing something that is part of a larger structure. I just don’t have the brain to get myself immersed into a world and hold that, while composing plot, characters, and all the sundry bits a novelist must do. I get interrupted, I get distracted, and most of the time I’m splitting my attention into ‘waiting’ and making light work on the side while I’m in a suspended state prior to action.
I can make art, and am. I can’t write long-form, at least not now. I’m hoping once the move is over, it will start to come back. I am working on giving myself grace. I’ve been reminded by loved ones that this is a season of high stress, and I’ll handle it much better if I remember to be kind to myself. It’s been a good reminder, and a needed one. I’m working on it. I try to catch myself when I want to make a self-deprecatory comment. I’m trying not to be gloomy about the fact that I’ve been doing this for over a decade and because I don’t really promote, my audience remains tiny. It’s frustrating, knowing that what used to work doesn’t. I don’t have the time or energy to chase down the next new thing, especially when I know that’s a constantly moving target.
In light of that? I’m going to try and just enjoy what I do. I’m making art! It’s relaxing, still, when I’m in the process. I can play around, I’m not locked into a client’s needs, or a style that my fans demand (I love all fifteen of you…and that you seem to be happy with my wildly scattered whims) and other than the anthologies, I don’t have any deadlines. It’s liberating, when I look at it in this light.
I encourage you, dear reader, to do the same if you find your outlook on your life and success is dim. Be kind to yourself, shine a light on what you are really doing, and if you find that you aren’t striving to be better every day? Make tiny steps happen. Not big strides. Do you remember the stories of the seven-league boots? I seem to recall (it’s been years since I read them) several versions of those in tales. Then, as now, fast travel and making huge progress was a goal. Reality, as we have not got the boots, or even the SF instant transport portals we joke about so often, is that we have to crawl along like snails while our dreams race past like rabbits. Rabbits don’t travel in straight lines when running. They hang hard turns, to throw a predator of their tracks. Dreams have a way of doing that, too. You’ll be going along slow and steady in one direction and suddenly look up to find your goalposts have shifted way over there to the left.
Life is an active proposition. When you stop moving, you’re dead. I think we can all look back and see just how many sharp turns our paths have taken. We can see, in hindsight, the places where every step was painful. And the times when it seemed to race past breathlessly and you don’t know where that went. I know as I get older, I seem to have a sense of time slipping past faster. That, and I know there’s an end. It’s not infinite, this daily drudge. Better make those steps count. But also… have fun. Relax, enjoy what you’re doing, because even though we all have seasons of stress to endure, creating chaos for no good reason won’t help it pass any faster.
Header image: Electric Lace, one of my abstract amusements.