January 15, 2021

"Fire bad. Tree Pretty."

I don't get it.

In times of turmoil, many respond by simply keeping on. That I understand. Do what you have to do, make it through the day. Hope that things get better, easier, simpler. That someday you'll have space for something more than surviving this moment.

I read months ago observations by psychologists that humans are incapable of processing trauma in the midst of living it. There are coping mechanisms, like denial, but we can't truly engage with the way trauma has impacted us until we have space free from the trauma to do so. Until we can do more than keep on keeping on.

People respond in different ways, of course. Many writers had an immensely productive 2020. Some continue to escape the political circus—and its terrifying implications—by focusing on their stories. And maybe if the extent of their personal trauma is dealing with the isolation of lockdown, I can understand that. After all, I've been living in a "shelter in place" way for years, for reasons unrelated to COVID, and with limits that go beyond local laws (or even the threat of infection). That hamper me even inside my own home. Maybe I would have started to process that, but COVID happened.

And then the traumas kept piling up. People I'd known for years died. And I made my way out of that grief enough to return to looking forward. The protracted disaster that was the US election became just another thing to live with. Staying abreast of developments required energy, sure, but there was a little something left, enough to revise my 2015 NaNo project, however slowly; to reveal the cover of the Dragon Story; to start to plan what I wanted to accomplish writing-wise in 2021.

Then people were diagnosed with terminal cancer, or were injured in a way that required hospitalization. Friends lost relatives to COVID.

The Capitol was attacked by white supremacist terrorists whom half the US still considers "patriots."

And even so I tried to push forward. To be more than a body that drags itself through the rituals of daily life (hygiene, sustenance). To try to find the energy to post here, or write that newsletter I really need to write, or work on the planned revisions to a published book I wanted to re-release. 

But my body has decided that food is too complicated a concept for it to handle.

And today, a family member was hospitalized with COVID.

I'm an expert at "keeping on." I do what I have to do. Hygiene. Water. Food, if I can, or now when I get hungry enough that I'm willing to suffer the consequences of a bowl of broth. Checking in on the people in my life who've been having a hard time.

But writing? Even revising?

Trisha and Ev (Forging Forever #3) have been walking through my mind more frequently. I should be writing their story. The Dragon Story needs to be revised. That other book, the plan was for a February re-release.

But I can't keep on keeping on with my writing. I can't even find the right tone to hit with a patreon post or for a newsletter. I can't be "an author" when I can barely manage to be a person.

I'm sorry. I don't know how other people do it. I feel so incredibly weak, but it's all I can do to keep the endless disasters from overwhelming my mind. So I stare at whatever show or movie is playing on my screen, or I drag my eyes over the pages of stories I'll never remember reading, or I play some inane game online literally because it takes no effort yet still occupies that little bit of my mind left that isn't enough to process everything but would otherwise still try. And break. 

I'm sorry. 

2 weeks into 2021, and I've already failed to keep up with everything, too busy keeping on


I hope you've found ways to be better, to take care of yourselves, to be kind if you're keeping on, or to celebrate if you're achieving more than that.

p.s. Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the title quotation without looking it up. 

This post originally went up on my Patreon here.