I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like I’d been sucked into a black hole and spent the last twelve months trying to crawl my way back out of it.
Before the pandemic, I had made so much progress with my writing. I had an agent, a book proposal with major publishers and a published essay. I was visible. I was writing blog posts, I was all over Facebook and Instagram and, for a strange unknown reason, I seemed to think that any of it mattered.
It’s been at least half a year since I withdrew from Facebook. I think it all came crumbling down when I was getting into arguments with people over the ‘choice’ mask-wearing (as if wearing a gas mask is a choice in, say, the case of a chemical attack, but you know, these people do exist and good luck to them if thinking the government is trying to control us makes them feel better about the whole thing. And don’t even get me started about the anti-vaccine propaganda). I, for one, prefer reality.
It’s a pandemic. We probably created it. We managed it very badly. It’s shit. Shit happens. Deal with it.
And deal with it we have for more than a year now (to a more or lesser degree, we all experienced imprisonment minus the violence and the bad food that usually comes with being an inmate), but patiently waiting for it to go away isn’t dealing with it. Or with the fact that the world as we know it may never be the same again. It’s not being able to deal with a grief that you can’t name (If you’re amongst the lucky ones, like myself, who have not actually lost a loved-one to COVID-19. However if you are, your grief has a name and my heart goes out to you). For many it’s being robbed of their youth, of their best years, of fun and parties and drinking and laughter. For others it’s isolation and the slow decay that comes with a malfunctioning limbic system, a broken social regulation system. For me, it’s writing without a sense of purpose.
I wrote another book since the pandemic started. It’s a slow, painstaking progress at times but not in the ways you may imagine. The writing itself is easy, the characters are well-formed, surprising, interesting, the story is good (and I say this with humility). But.
(Of course there is a but. There is always a but.)
I have to constantly ask myself why. Why bother? Why make the effort of fitting precious writing time in an already demonic working schedule? Why get my heart broken again?
I constantly try to put things into perspective.
The world won’t end without this story. The world won’t be better because of it either.
The world didn’t end when my first book didn’t get published. The world would not have been better if it had been published.
My world on another hand would have been just a little more firm under the weight of a global pandemic. Instead of moving forward with my writing, I reverted back to the world of advertising. I do it, I am grateful for the financial security it offers. But I could have been something different.
I could have been a published author, giving zoom conferences about love in the time of COVID-19 (I almost did it at the beginning of the pandemic when I had a quick wind of podcast inspiration). I would have figured out an interesting angle. I would have stayed relevant. I might have even helped some people. Instead, like so many of you, I ended up at the bottom of the black hole.
Yes, we have made significant progress in the form of vaccines. But the black hole is still strong. We’ve been fighting against being dissolved by it for so long that we’ve made a home inside of it. Getting out of the black hole now seems ridiculous, laughable, impossible. Why talk about it at all?
But talk about it we must. Or write about it. If we are to survive inside the black hole and beyond.