Around this time last year I wrote this post, little knowing what 2020 would bring. While many of us may have gone into 2020 full of hope, maintaining that hope throughout the year was a mammoth task. And yet, we’ve made it. You may be bruised and battered. You may have experienced loss and grief. Even if you personally escaped the worst that 2020 had to bring, none of us could avoid been touched by the effects of Covid-19, of civil and political unrest, of economic crisis.
But, here we are.
So, how are you? What are you hoping to get from this new year? What would you like see happen or change in the world?
My writing goal this year is to find my writing-joy. Somewhere over the last few years writing became a race I couldn’t win, and I want to get back to the pleasure that escaping into new worlds and building new characters used to bring me. I want to write for the sake of writing. Because I have ideas swirling around inside my head that have to be released.
My first step? To write for just half-an-hour every morning, and to focus for a while on short stories so I can get some (relatively) instant gratification.
I encourage us all to find some healing in the power of writing. You may never share what your write with others, but I don’t think there’s anything quite like getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper in whatever way they want to come.
So, here’s to 2021. No one can know what the future will bring, but whatever it is we can meet it and survive it. We might even learn to thrive in it.
I haven’t really been there for you all this year. To be honest, I haven’t done a lot of writing myself. It’s hard to be creative when the world is in upheaval.
As I take my leave until 2021 I want to thank all of you who kept reading my sporadic thoughts and advice. I want to wish you good health and safety and a brighter year to come. If you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah then please enjoy your celebrations with your family and friends, and I hope you find comfort and peace in your faith. If you don’t celebrate these religious occasions, then I hope that you can wave goodbye to this year with a smile (a perhaps a tear) and step confidently into the coming year.
I really am grateful for everyone who finds thier way, one way or another, to Pieces of String.
Oh dear! On Wednesday my darling children will again be learning at home. For me this is something of a mixed blessing – on the one hand they’re disappointed that they won’t be at school with their friends and teachers, and I’m sorry that my writing and creating time will be curtailed. But on the other hand, at least when they’re home I know that they are absolutely safe and sound.
In regards to my writing in general, and this blog in particular, it’s time for me to take an indefinite break. I was hopeful when the kids went back to school a few weeks ago things were beginning to return to normal and I’d be able to devote more time to Pieces of String. Clearly, in my part of the world anyway, that’s not the case. Eventually things will settle down, but right now I need to devote the time to my family.
So, there may be the occasional Two Sentence Tuesday but, in the short term, know that there won’t be any new posts. I haven’t dropped off the map, I’m just taking a break. Don’t give up on me. And above all, don’t give up on your own writing endeavours. More than ever, the world needs writers and creators.
I’m excited. This week I’m starting an online workshop with Writers Victoria – Writing Children’s Stories with Jane Godwin. Jane is a prolific Australian author and I’m looking forward to getting her, and the other participants, opinion on my work (and, I’ll admit, a little nervous).
Getting feedback is always a little bit confronting. Writing is so a often a solitary pursuit, but eventually you get to a place where you have to share your work with others. I’m a big believer that art, all art whether it’s in the written work, or visual or performance, is only meaningful when an audience can interact with it.
Sometimes, your audience might not interact with it in the way that you hope. Even so, if you want to grow in any artistic medium, you have to be open to that.
I’d love to know, how do you handle feedback of your work? And, how are you at giving it to others?
No, really. Coz I’ve got to say, I’m on edge. I am scanning the news for information, hanging on the words of politicians and medical specialists and generally wondering, “Do I have this?”
Since March the message I’ve been giving my kids is, “Remember the three Cs – calm, cautious, common sense.” Buuuuuuut, sometimes is hard to stay calm, not spiral into full blown paranoia and not to start hoarding toilet paper and spaghetti sauce. And I think I’m probably not alone.
So, not for the first time and probably not for the last time I’m going to say…
If you’ve reached a stage in your writing career where you submitting your work to publishers you’ve probably noticed that many of them say they welcome or encourage submissions by authors from marginalised communities. Usually it’s only a sentence at the end of the submission instructions. It’s an important sentence.
I am a straight, white, cis woman. While I have experienced racial prejudice I don’t know what it’s like to be judged by the colour of my skin, to not have dolls that look like me, to only see my people represented by stereotypes or in tokenism. I have never had to explain my sexuality to anyone. I’ve never had to argue that my feelings and experiences of my body are real, and that my genitals do not match the person I feel like inside. I’ve never had people from outside of my community take my experiences and, no matter how well intentioned, use them as their own and profit from them.
Publishing is a competitive world. Honestly, getting published is a struggle. But in my mind, letting authors from marginalised groups know that their stories, their experiences and their unique points of view, are not only welcome, they’re desired, is a good thing for everybody. It’s wonderful for readers but it’s also good for writers regardless of their background because it means the playing field is becoming more even, that we are getting closer to equity of opportunity. That if you are a good writer, with a compelling story to tell, regardless of your race or religion or gender or sexuality, there are people out there who want to bring your stories to the world.
And that’s the world I want my children to grow up in.
I am one of those people. One of those people who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, who’s always looking for the thumbs-up or the gold star to tell me I’m on the right track. It’s not that I don’t have internal motivation to follow certain paths, it’s more that I don’t trust that internal pull and therefore look to others to validate that I’m doing the right thing.
This works well when you’re a kid in school because extrinsic motivators are a big part of schooling. It works less well as an adult when so much of life doesn’t have anyone watching over you and telling you you’ve done well or, conversely, you can find just as many people telling you you’re doing wrong as telling you you’re doing right.
For someone like me, that leads to a life lived in doubt and guilt.
Are there really people out there that know what they’re doing? They’re adulting and getting it right? REALLY!?
Are you one of those people. And if so, can you give me some tips?
I was looking at my calendar this morning and I realised that April is a really busy month for God. Easter, Orthodox Easter, Passover and Ramadan are all celebrated in April this year. Perhaps God thought we would need a boost during our Covid-19 isolation?
I personally was brought up Christian, although my faith is…mmm…ever evolving. But I have had the opportunity to join in Ramadan celebrations in the past. And a good friend of mine is converting to Judaism before she marries her fiance, so maybe I’ll get to experience some Jewish celebrations in the future.
Many (many) people have told me that Easter isn’t really happening this year because of the corona virus and the isolation measures we’re all taking. Perhaps, if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you’ve been hearing the same thing about your respective religious celebrations. I totally understand. Things are different this year. Perhaps you’re used to visiting with family or going camping or having a friends around. Perhaps, usually, your faith calls for you to get together with family to cook or make special decorations, or break fast. And this year, we can’t do these things.
If you’re feeling down that things are different this year and you can’t celebrate your faith or traditions the way you usually would, remember that there are things you can do. Make use of digital technology to connect with friends and family. Stay in touch with your church, synagogue or mosque through Facebook. Go old school and ring older friends and family members who may not be comfortable with the internet or social media (try not to find this frustrating).
For many of us religious celebrations are more about tradition than faith. But, for those of us who are believers, take a moment to remember why it is we celebrate during this time. That reason doesn’t change, even if the world circumstances does.
Throughout history people have had to celebrate their faith in difficult circumstances. In fact, around the world there are still many people who can’t practise their faith freely and without fear of persecution. And yet, they find away.
And so can you.
So, enjoy your Easter, Passover or Ramadan. Stay safe.
Anxiety for me is not something new. I’ve mentioned before that I have an anxiety and depression disorder, which I control with cognitive behaviour therapy and medication (I love my medication. For me it has made the world of difference). But in circumstances like we’re in now, anxiety is a pretty universal feeling.
Right now, all I want to do is take everyone I love and put us all in a bubble where nothing can get to us. Possibly a little unrealistic. I said to my (long suffering) husband last night, “We just need to take care of ourselves, and our little boys…and mum and dad, and your mum. And my brothers and sister and their partners. And T1. And your sisters and their families. And Adrienne. And then we’ll be OK.” And he laughed. Because what can you say to that?
Swimming in this anxiety, let’s take a breath. Let’s all try to be our own therapist. You feel anxious, but what are the thoughts that are driving that anxiety. Are those thoughts justified? If so, can you fix the problem right now? If not, let it float for a while. If you can, go do it.
I feel anxious. I’m worried about my children getting sick. Is this justified. Yes and no. Yes, because they have a compromised immune system. No, because children are less likely to develop Covid-19, even if they do contract the virus. So what can I do? I can keep them in isolation for the time being.
I still feel anxious. But, honestly, less so.
And remember, you are not alone. We are all feeling the same way. So try to be calm, be courteous, be compassionate and have courage.