and taking time
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that saying “At first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I don’t even know where I first heard it , and until about 2 seconds ago, I didn’t know who’d said it first (answer: Edward Hickson). It speaks to this don’t-be-a-quitter mentality that is drilled into us from a young age. Maybe it’s that I’m currently counting the number of days that I’ve felt good since having COVID a week ago, but reading that saying now, makes me tired.
Many times in my life I’ve been told how resilient I am. While often this is flattering, I wonder how much my resilience comes at the expense of my health and wellness? If we’re constantly picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off before launching back into the chaos again, are we taking time to heal and reflect?
I’ve been spending a lot of time examining and re-examining how and why I work and create. Living within the confines of a capitalist system means constantly navigating pressures of productivity. In our oppressive systems, good work often goes hand in hand with fast work. To do things slowly (even if it’s done thoughtfully and with care and meaning) is viewed as doing it wrong or unsuccessfully.
Before I tested positive for COVID a couple weeks ago, I had big plans. I was going to start the draft of my next book. I had a recently rejected essay I was going to pitch to some magazines. I was going to go to Dawson City for the Dawson Daily News Print and Publishing Festival and then it all stopped. The hum of the need to be productive didn’t quiet as I laid in bed unable to write more than a couple sentences in an email. I should be reading, I thought to myself as I downloaded another crime drama. But my body had other plans, I needed to rest, I needed to give into the fatigue and the brain fog and wait. Be patient.
So much of the creative process demands patience, but it’s so hard to actually give into that demand when nothing about the systems around us appreciates patience. I write this as I refresh my email and try to quiet the anxious voice in my head that’s been nattering since my book went out on submission. I say this as I wonder why I can’t start my next book, or draft a new essay? What am I waiting for? Sometimes things just take time. Sometimes it happens when it needs to, not when we want it to.
Write a scene centered around a beach fire. Think about the senses and dialogue.
What I'm reading: Reading has been a bit of a challenge lately, but luckily this has changed over the past couple days. When my COVID brain fog lifted I pulled Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin off my bookshelf. This novel was recently shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Metal for Humor, and funny seemed like just what I needed. Warning: This is a dark comedy, it deals with death and suicide, but overall it’s a wonderful book and I gobbled it up in two days! Currently I’m reading Consider the Oyster by MFK Fisher along side World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever.
What’s next on the reading list: There’s some work related reading on the horizon including A Soft Place to Land by Tanya Christenson and Dear Peter, Dear Ulla by Barbara Nickel, but I’m also going to be interspersing some personal reading including Lost in the Valley of Death by Harley Rustad.
What I'm watching: The list of things I’ve watched recently is looooong. I spent a lot of time watching TV and movies while I had COVID. Some of the things I enjoyed most were:
Starstruck: A British/New Zealand romantic comedy, which was recommended to me as really good and “not stupid.”
Chernobyl: Yes, I’m super late to the party on this show but what a fantastic series. Such great acting and so interesting!
Under the Banner of Heaven: This is the dramatized TV adaptation of the true crime book by Jon Krakauer. I’m not a huge Andrew Garfield fan and I thought that the way the Mormon history was introduced into the movie was a bit clunky but overall I thought it was really well done and I couldn’t stop watching.
What I'm cooking: As with reading and writing, cooking slowed right down over the past week and a bit, but in the past week that all changed! With the return of my energy and my brain fog clearing up came my desire to get in the kitchen. One of the best things I made over the past few days are the Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies from Island Eats: Signature Chefs’ Recipes from Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea.