Tag: pandemic

On to 2023

Here we are in the season of resolutions –either making them or breaking them. I tend not to make resolutions — they are too much about my faults and not at all about my strengths. Still, January is a good time to take stock of the year just past and plan for the year to come. So . . .

 

 

  • I want to write more — what author doesn’t?
  • Exercise more — I complain about my knees, but they might work better if I made them move more. 
  • Look after my health. . . 

The above are more wishes than resolutions. I’ve made them before. 

No,  this year I want to focus on appreciation. I want to tune in to the good in my fellow beings.

A few years ago I began a collection of good news stories for December. It was great fun and some of you contributed your own stories to help cheer us all. I didn’t do that this year, but I did remark on several occasions that I had received exceptional service from store clerks, food servers, health workers, and others. With the nightly news full of stories about labour shortages and supply chain problems, these cheery, helpful, charming people brightened my life. They were the Spirit of Christmas, however brief the encounter.

The travails of the world are horrifying and endless.  We all try to help, but, no matter how much aid is collected, people are still hungry.

The war in Ukraine grinds on despite the resolve and courage of the Ukrainian people and the support of Western nations.

Homelessness in our cities continues to increase.

The pandemic seems to have unleashed a torrent of rage, fear and isolationism. The need on all sides is crushing.

So, when a clerk goes above and beyond, her small action raises my spirits exponentially. When a stranger lets me pat his dog, I relish the connection. When a reader says, “I liked your story,” I’m over the moon.

The classic Christmas movies, like “Wonderful Life,” and “Miracle on 34th Street” have one thing in common — they touch the heart. Not all Christmas offerings on the screen do that — they go through the motions but don’t stir the soul. Kind of like my New Year’s wishes — desire without commitment. For 2023 I’m on the look out for moments of real connection.

For some time I kept a gratitude journal, inspired by Ann Voskamp — detailing every day the many blessings that warmed my soul.  Finding items for that journal was actually pretty easy. This year, I’m making a new list. For 2023 I’m keeping my eyes open for human encounters that enrich my life. I’ll enjoy the moment as it happens and again as I write it down.

As we recover from the isolation of COVID-19, it is important to recognize the goodness of others. We’ve been afraid long enough.

Happy New Year, dear readers. May the days of 2023 be filled with positive encounters, good stories, and a happy heart.

Visits: 22

Exiting the Cave

This week I took a 20 minute drive and a 35 minute ferry ride to meet up with an old writing friend for lunch. That was it, a total of 55 minutes from my house and it felt like a daring adventure. Just shows what being stuck at home can do to a person. I’ve always considered myself adventurous but after two full years of pandemic “being careful” I’m developing hints of agoraphobia. When I shared that bit of humiliation with my friend she admitted to similar feelings.

Apparently we are not alone in our nervousness. There is even a new acronym for the condition, FOGO or FONO. It means fear of going out or fear of normal. The human brain doesn’t like change, a trait left over from our evolution. We don’t like change, even good change. We want to be in control and change means we’re not. The world we used to know, pre-pandemic, is now the unknown and it scares us.

Since we were in confessional mode my friend and I discovered that both of us had been “stuck” in the writing process. We both have story ideas. We’ve both written and re-written and re-written the opening a dozen times. We’ve tried skipping ahead and writing pivotal scenes. We’ve even tried writing the ending — with no success. I found it interesting that we’d been travelling the same path without ever comparing notes. Maybe we are part of a wider writer-response to the pandemic.

If we are, we are in good company. I read over the weekend that Anne Tyler, the highly successful author of 23 novels, hasn’t been able to start a new book in the past three years. To her surprise she has missed the stimulation of eavesdropping!

Eavesdropping has a nasty connotation but in the context of an author it is merely adding grist to the imagination. Overheard snippets of conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store may spark a whole new level of conflict in a work-in-progress. The body language of people in a crowded coffee shop may bring insight to a character’s motivation. These normal, every day interactions are barely perceptible — until they aren’t there.

When the pandemic narrowed our lives to a few rooms or a few people, nourishment for our imaginations also narrowed. For some, like me and my friend, we got stuck.

Reading other people’s stories or watching other people’s movies doesn’t have the same power as listening to the voices around us and telling our own stories.

So, now that our pandemic restrictions are loosening and the sun is starting to shine in my part of the world, I’m resolved to push my personal boundaries beyond the backyard. I grew up with the adage that one must face one’s fears in order to overcome them. I still believe that, so while my snail-self wants to retreat into my shell, my grizzly-bear self urges me to explore new horizons. I’m going to do that.

I hope a fuller life gets my writing unstuck. Even if it doesn’t, I’d rather embrace life than hide from it.

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Visits: 90

Avoidance

On this blog, I’ve promoted the use of lists to accomplish tasks in a timely manner.  I have found this a very useful technique for both writing and non-writing chores. Once I’ve itemized a job and added it to a weekly list, changes are pretty good, I’ll get it done.

Except. . .

Clean the sewing room has been on my weekly list for the past four weeks, and still the stacks of fabric, missing buttons and lost threads accumulate in corners. I have become a master of avoidance when it comes to a deep dive on organizing my sewing room. Can’t explain it, but the many times I’ve transferred to task from last week’s list to this week’s is testament to a deep-seated resistance. Mind you, the little clip at the top of this post is another reason the sewing room is not decluttered.

Decisions and Fear

Perhaps it’s the need to make decisions that holds me back. To really tidy the room I’ll have to decide on what to keep and what to throw away. Fear of making the wrong decision keeps me from making any decision and the detritus grows.

The Discovery Stage

I’m also resistant to writing the “romance” in my romance novel. I’ve finished the plot line days ago, but cannot arrive at a logical happily ever after, because I haven’t built the love story into the middle of the manuscript. This is a common failing of mine. I should be used to it by now. 

Because my first draft is more a voyage of discovery than a charted journey, I’m afraid of locking myself into a bad idea, of picking up a theme that I cannot sustain throughout the novel. So, I hedge. I leave my options open, hoping that somewhere in this flight through the mist, I’ll stumble upon the key to the romance. Usually I do. Usually it is not until I’m about to smash into the mountain. The clouds lift and I see where I’m going.

Resolution

Having reached the crisis moment where h/h must chose each other or the story turns from romance to downer, I finally have a clue as to what the big issue between them is and how to resolve it.

Hint:  It is not the issue that seemed to be the stumbling block at the beginning of the story. That first conflict is never big enough to hang a novel on. 

Promise

So, my promise to myself and to you, dear reader, is that this week I will face the challenge of both the laundry room and the romance. I post that promise here to give myself extra motivation. Having publicly made a declaration, I don’t want the humiliation of admitting I dodged the issue once again.

Conversation

So writers and readers, how do you cope with avoidance? Is there a magic formula that will get that closet cleaned out? Do you have to be stuck at home amid a pandemic before boredom drives you to the neglected recesses of your home and your mind? Does avoidance make you feel guilty or clever?

Use the comments section to share your wisdom or your frustration.

Visits: 167

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