I like to do end of year/new year posts. A lot of people do them. But this year – this year I’m sure everyone will want to do one, focusing on the once(maybe) in a lifetime events the world has experienced. Even this post is going to be influence by them.
From a writing perspective, there have been ups and downs. Books and reading certainly grew in popularity with people being stuck inside, which of course has to be a good thing. But on the flip side a harsh spotlight was shone onto racism and inequality including that which is present in the publishing world.
And there were plenty of thoughts and posts about the upsides of being locked down – including time to pursue creative endeavours like writing that book. “Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst on lockdown” they’d chant. Great. But I ain’t Shakespeare, and neither are you.
For a start, not everyone has had that extra time. Plenty of people were still working, be it from home or outside (and I salute all our key workers wherever you are). If you were trying to teach your kids (well done you too), that’s another thing to handle. And if you were furloughed, or worse, lost your job altogether, you probably weren’t in the best mental place either.
Because really, having time is not enough. Even under normal circumstances, it takes a mental effort to get our brains away from our worries and into our created worlds. Under last year’s circumstances, it was often impossible. If you’ve read anything about the pandemic, you may have heard about the function of our “fight or flight” mode. Our most basic defences were triggered but we could neither fight the invisible virus, nor fly away from it since we were, well, not meant to be going anywhere (and where could you go anyway?). Consciously and subconsciously, we’ve been going a bit wonky.
I barely wrote for large parts of the year. This blog was about the only thing I kept up with consistently. I have a WFH job (and no kids), but I just didn’t want to write. I wanted to sit in the garden and stare at bees or walk through the woods or have a glass of wine or talk to my Mum.
Time to write is only ever part of puzzle when it comes to writing or any creative activity. Mentally, you also need some semblance of balance that allows your imagination to run wild about something other than the potential apocalypse.
So if you didn’t finally write that book, or finish your masterpiece or do whatever creative thing you always planned to do, it doesn’t matter. You’re not alone. You didn’t fail. And equally if you have managed it, kudos. This isn’t to scoff at what you’ve done either. There’s no “normal” after all.
Today in a new day. The troubles we have been facing are not over. And new ones will doubtless arise even when they are. All we can do, is keep going, keep trying and keep helping each other.
Happy New Year my friends, I hope better times for us all.