And Just Where the *Hell* Have You Been?
I mean, it's a valid question, right? During the website refresh it was made very clear by looking at my poetry and story sales. I literally wrote nothing in 2019, though I sold a few things I still had in my "inventory." In 2020 I wrote a few flash pieces, but that was preeety much it. Up through the end of 2016 I had a fairly steady stream of inspiration, and my writing career seemed to be on an upward trajectory. Then all of a sudden it just...stopped.
Which isn't to say I wrote absolutely nothing during those four years; just that my productivity dropped off drastically, and what I did write wasn't exactly what I'd call uplifting. Most of what I produced was extremely dark, (yeah, darker than normal), and...angry. Very, very angry. I didn't necessarily see it or embrace it at the time, but now, looking back, it's clear.
I won't say I was lost, but I'll admit that I was struggling. I continue to struggle, truth be told, as do so many of us. Before anything else, writing is therapy for me, a form of release, a way to express those things that I just can't put into words easily otherwise. I realized as I took stock of things recently that the last four years haven't been about career trajectory; they've been about survival.
I mean, haven't they been, for all of us, in one way or another? I lead such a privileged life, compared to so many who have suffered and lost so much, that I feel a terrible guilt and shame even complaining about it, but I feel like I owe myself (and my readers) an explanation. I've been in survival mode for so long now that it's become the default mode, the regular plane of existence, the planet I live on. Without that acknowledgement, I fear I might not catch the proverbial last flight out.
Is it mental illness? Maybe. Maybe I've had issues with depression for a long time now. Of course, in the midst of a raging pandemic and historic political unrest, a privileged, middle-aged white woman who may or may not be suffering from some form of mild depression seems pretty low on the priority scale. So I did the next best thing. I expressed my anger, through the art I knew how to make, and I got outside as much as I possibly could, and listened to what the Earth had to say.
Does that sound New Agey? I guess so. I don't have any fucks left to give in that regard, though (thankfully). If more of us cared about listening to the Earth instead of focusing on new and creative ways to exploit it on every possible level, we'd be in a lot better shape right now. Spending time outdoors, planting flowers, restoring the native habitats to the land around me, has been healing for me in ways that I can't even begin to articulate. Even now, every day that I watch the sun trail across the sky from indoors, my anxiety level ratchets up and up and up until I can walk outside and spend at least a little time breathing in the outside air, my hands in the soil, making something grow and become that was not here before.
It's magical, and healing, and right now, it's all I've got, beyond the belief that things must get better. I'm going to try hard to focus on those things, and hopefully channel some of these stories and poems that have been living in my head down onto paper so that I can share them.
I've been gone a lot, and for that, I'm sorry.
I'm on my way back.