It’s only now that I start to feel the real cost of the pandemic. It’s effect, now more discombobulating than ever, when I am faced with the truth about my dream of being a published writer.
Like many aspiring or even established writers, I’ve been at a halt for months. The creative effervescence of the lockdown months, when I wrote an entirely new book from scratch, replaced by the reality that the publishing industry is facing its biggest crisis. The realisation that, from being a step away from a publishing offer, I find myself drifting away from my dream and into the collective grief of 2020 (crying over whatever’s left from wildfires, pandemic, riots, more fires and crumbling economies, to name but a few). I’m in a sinking ship thousands of miles away from shore with nothing but a bucket. But a bucket I still have and I am going to use it.
To be a writer (published or not) is to engage in the act of writing. And as long as I put down words in a coherent manner trying to translate whatever is going on inside my mind and my heart and sharing it with others, I still am one. Bucket in hand, this is me, staying afloat. It’s not me, glowing all over social media that I’ve reached my dream of publication (which was kind of my original plan) – it’s me doing what I need to survive in a world where we’re all stranded in a sinking ship with a very small bucket and hell lot of fear and grief.
My dreams of being published are not the only shattered dreams. With businesses paying the economic cost, with livelihoods under peril, we’re all just bucketing our way out of this one. Maybe one day I’ll get to the shore of publication or maybe I won’t. But to keep the dream alive, even after years of battling self-doubt, of working on my craft, of writing and rewriting my fingers to the bone, of almost making it, is to keep writing.
People need words more than ever. I’m not sure I have enough cheerful and encouraging words in me right now (and not because I’m a pessimist, but because I prefer honesty to sugarcoating and the reality of the world right now is pretty bleak, I think we can all agree), but what I do have is complete empathy. I feel for all of you out there, whose dreams have been shattered just like mine. Just when you were so close.
And if, like me, you wished you didn’t procrastinate all those years and wish you didn’t let self-doubt hold you back, perhaps you would have been there already. But guess what? That’s not how life works. Sometimes reaching the dream is not the point. Sometimes, just making it possible is enough. Because you know you’ve done the work, you’ve walked the miles and you’ve got the ability to make it happen.
And maybe that’s enough. For now.