We survived another week and that’s good news, I suppose, although I have to say I’m not too sure this particular week.
It comes in waves
This is a great title for a horror story or a whole anthology or maybe even a novel, as long as it doesn’t deal with the pandemic. I’ve had it with the pandemic. I’ve had it with first, second, third and thirteenth waves, with daily stats and forecasts and warnings. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one and yet so many people keep on warning, forecasting, and advising it’s truly amazing. As if they have nothing better to do than talk.
I’ll need to stick it out for another three months, though, because I’ve made it a tradition to get my time off in July, since it marks the half of the year and I like symmetry. But in the meantime I’m becoming increasingly desensitised to the whole thing, which is bad, on the one hand, as every desensitisation is, but good, on the other, because I no longer freak out about the possibility of catching the virus, transmitting it to Big C., both of us dying and leaving poor Little C. an orphan at the tender age of almost 10. There’s always a silver lining and mine is that fear and stress have largely gone away.
Work, more work!
It’s fascinating how well Goethe’s allegedly last words lend themselves to paraphrasing. Vaccines, more vaccines! would kill it in the EU. Masks, more masks! would be great for the States. I could go on but I’m here to complain, not amuse you. It’s been a busy week and I hardly had time for writing.
You know how some days it’s like the universe has conspired against you? Yeah, my whole week was like that although the conspiracy was, to be fair, profitable for me. I got two new project proposals this week and I couldn’t say no because I didn’t want to. And the reason I didn’t want to was because both projects were interesting and a pleasure to do. Yet they did mean more time needed to spend on work and this meant less time free for writing. Or did it?*
Normally, the busier I am, the fuller my cup of story ideas becomes, to the point of overflowing. And it comes with the energy to turn these ideas into text. This week has been different, possibly because it was too cold for creative energy bursts or because I get tired more easily because of old age and all. Or this week was a transitional period* and next week I’ll be my usual energy-bursting self. We’ll see. I do have three manuscripts to finish before I die, after all.
*Don’t you just love the “Or did it?” hook? I love it so much I want to grab it and squeeze it until it squeaks.
** Another big — and very squeezable — favourite.
This is what my husband said yesterday after he fixed yet another thing on my old laptop, which I thought had died the true death two years ago. Apparently, it hadn’t. All it took was a man with a persistent, meticulous, and extremely pro-productive frame of mind. Which got me thinking about the different ways people relax.
Me, I relax by consuming — TV shows, books, beer, nicotine, occasionally food. True, I like baking so I sometimes bake but I wouldn’t say it is my primary form of relaxation. Big C., on the other hand, relaxes by vacuuming, cleaning and, above all, fixing things. And because he was born and grew up in totalitarian Romania he learned early on to save everything because you never know when you might need it, so there’s no shortage of things that need fixing in the house.
Some people, then, relax by consuming, and I’m willing to bet that’s most of us. Some rare and lovely individuals, however, relax by creating, by doing something productive. I like that idea. I like people who relax productively the way I like people who are much better than me at something. I’m not saying relaxation through consumption is bad although it probably is in excess and I could find better things to do with my time, such as editing that manuscript I planned to have finished by June.
Productive relaxation can also become bad in excess, when the whole thing starts feeling like work rather than a pleasant pastime. We humans are such complex creatures, aren’t we? We can’t even relax without overthinking it. If there was a deity that created us I would’ve very much liked to ask it why it couldn’t have made us simpler in the overthinking department.
Living the thick skin dream
I sent out a query the other day. I got an almost immediate response asking for some details and then a request for the full manuscript. Did I cry with joy? No. Did I at least whoopee in secret? No. My first thought, in fact, was “Oh, they’re probably a vanity press and will ask me to pay a few thousand dollars to have the book published.”
I shall mark this day in my secret mental calendar of grand events as the day I finally acquired a thick author skin to protect me from the multitude of disappointments that await behind every corner. I may well be unfair to the publisher but I’m sure if they read this they will understand where this unfairness comes from: bad experiences. I may, on the other hand, have been completely right.
If I’m right, this fact will not bring me joy but it will also — and that’s the important part — not bring me the blues normally caused by shattered dreams and hopes. This is a very good thing because the writer’s blues saps the creative juices better than Vlad the Cat’s kitty litter saps, well, liquid. Having a thick skin, then, doesn’t just shield you from sorrow’s bitter arrows (Yeah, I know they don’t rhyme but so what.). It also protects your writerly self from potentially deadly exposure to the real world. Here’s to thick skin.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Have a book:
For vampires, witches, and dragons click here. Part two is coming later this year, featuring demons.