On Writing During a Pandemic

In some ways the pandemic  thwarted my writing progress. Pre-pandemic, I had a steady routine and a solid plan. But low-level stress over the past several months has shaken my routine and caused me to abandon said plan.  It’s also caused me to carry a full-size bottle of Lysol in my purse so I can disinfect shopping carts at the grocery store and chairs in the waiting room. Perhaps, this strikes you as overzelous, but this is for your benefit, not mine. Because, if there is anyone out there who is an asymptomatic carrier, I’m pretty sure it’s me.

I’m not very self-aware when it comes to my body. When my appendix ruptured years ago, I decided to go for a stroll so I could walk off what I assumed were stomach cramps.  When that didn’t work, I tried drinking water (which cures everything, right?) until my husband made me go to the E.R.  I was promptly rushed to the operating room for an emergency surgery.  Suffice it to say, my mind-body connection is a little off so consider the Lysol spray a courtesy.

Between the clouds of disinfectant, I am still writing, just not what I hoped to be writing. Currently, my big project is on hold. With the ever-changing news I just can’t maintain the necessary level of engagement to move forward.  It’s too hard to sustain focus and the nature of the project demands attention to detail.  Anyone else feel this way right now?

However,  my poetry collection is coming along nicely and guess what?  A poem from the collection was published in the Eastern Iowa Review! The witty Chila Woychik edits the online journal which features lyric essays and poetic prose.  So if you need somthing to take your mind off of Covid-19, check it out and don’t forget to read my recent poem about the weather.

 

If your AC breaks, it will break in July

Of course the AC would break during a heat wave smack dab in the middle of July.  Don’t get me wrong, the vents still pushed air, just not cold air.  Inside it grew increasingly warm.   The temperature inched higher and higher until finally,  around 2 a.m., it was officially cooler outside than it was inside.  I spent the night tossing, turning, and roaming the house in the dark.  Sleep-deprived and heat-sick, I was lucky enough to get a repairman to the house early in the morning, and (miracle of all miracles) before noon.  (Thank you Robby from Air Necessities!)

Extremes, be it a pandemic or a heat wave, tend to bring out strong emotions.  And aren’t we  all just trying to keep cool these days. I hope you are being gentle with yourself and others as we weather extremes together. In the meantime, perhaps you will recognize a bit of yourself in my recent poem, Blame it on the Heat.  Feel free to grab an ice beverage while you read and stay cool.

 

Blame it on the Heat

Triple digit, relentless all day into the night, sucks life with each bead of sweat. The harsh words that came next. The forecast says eighty percent humidity. Are you kidding me? and are they factoring in all the tears?  Man, this heat that suffocates skin if skin could breathe. It dares you  to strip off every unnecessary piece of cloth and rub it in the face of modesty. It’s. Just. Too. Hot.   Kick off the blankets at night.  Blame it on the heat, the brain fog, the decision fatigue.  A complete unit failure. Call the repairman. For the blown fuse, the short fuse, the complaints,  the energy leak from the air conditioner which worked fine, just fine, last week. Blame it all on the heat. 

Gullah Geechee Queen

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Petigru Review for selecting my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen, for their most recent issue.  The poem is a part of a larger collection exploring life in the modern South.

Jane Bowers, Sue Cryer, and Amber Wheeler Bacon have created an elegant compilation of writing to be enjoyed at your leisure. The readers, designers, and photographers of the Petigru Review have curated a reading experience you don’t want to miss.

Is your budget tight?  No worries.  Amazingly, the online publication is FREE!

Check out my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen at: https://thepetigrureview.com/1104-2/

And make time to read the other pieces at: https://thepetigrureview.com/

On Writing, Failure, and Writing

National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) ended yesterday. I love the hype. I love the energy. And I love a good challenge. Naturally I accepted the task at hand: write 50,000 words in one month. Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No

Throughout the challenge, life didn’t extend the courtesy of pausing or at the very least, slowing down. Instead it raced ahead. During November, I studied for college classes, took a Praxis exam, spent over 30 hours driving to a funeral, hosted a birthday party, taught a few lessons to high school students, took one daughter to the doctor and took another daughter to have surgery, cleaned up after several children when they became ill from a stomach bug, waited for my husband to return home from two out of state trips, and looked after my five children.

Whew!

It’s no surprise that I failed the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wrote until the very last minute and fell short.  But I managed an impressive 48,658 words- less than 1,500 words shy of my 50,000 goal.

In terms of the challenge, I’m a loser. I didn’t win the NaNoWriMo challenge. I didn’t plan for my children to get sick or an uncle to die. But things happen. This is real life. The real challenge isn’t just about winning. The real challenge is writing during adversity and finding satisfaction in the work. I learned I can  rise to the occasion, tackle a project, and finish better than I started.

Like it or not, failure is part of the journey.

November may have brought you beautiful highs. Or maybe, like me, it brought you unexpected obstacles. Whatever the case, keep moving forward.

I will reach my word count goal no later than Tuesday. After that, I have my work cut out for me as I revise and redraft. Word by word. Line by line.

Writing. Failing. And writing again.