Writing Life vs. Living Life

I know I’ve been neglecting my blog lately; it’s due to the task of recovering from the past year & also wanting to experience my life more than write about it.

A shot from the fairy tales conference, when I felt like I was on top of the world.
A shot from the fairy tales conference, when I felt like I was on top of the world.

I haven’t stopped writing; I’ve just been sharing less of it publicly. I feel compelled to talk a bit about why.

My return to the Midwest has been bittersweet and rocky. Health issues aside (guess who still doesn’t have health insurance?!), it’s challenging to resume living in a city I’d formerly only lived while married. Divorce is consistently rated as one of the biggest life stressors, so yeah, that’s a thing. Financial instability has also been plaguing me, and moving is just difficult for me to begin with. The summer flew by once I was back in Indy, and already it’s the 4th week of classes of the fall semester. Part of me, of course, is freaking out and thinking, when did that happen?!

Keeping busy has been good for me, though. I’ve been dancing a ton, and occasionally seeing friends. I’ve resumed baking, and for me, that’s when I know I’m on the way to settling in: when the sourdough starter is being regularly fed and turned into bread. Many moments of happiness have glimmered in my days and nights, too, moments that I’m holding close to my heart rather than scattering throughout. I feel a bit like a dragon hoarding treasure, the way I’m hanging on to happy memories, turning them over to inspect and hug to my chest.

Part of what’s had me occupied is re-engaging with my academic career in ways that I hadn’t been recently. As I observed in my conference recap, Thinking with Stories was a fantastic experience for me both personally and professionally. I think I really, really needed it to be what it was: a time to intellectually recharge and feel reinvigorated. Hearing that my colleagues value me and my work helped pick me up from what has been a difficult time in terms of my own life as well as engagement with the increasingly-messed-up world of academe.

The book chapter that was stressing me out this summer is finally done. I’m expecting the editor to send it back with plenty of revisions, but such is scholarly life. I have other revisions for other projects in various stages of completion, but those don’t usually wig me out as much (with the exception of one higher-profile publication I need to get sorted out; am trying to be optimistic even though it’ll be a ton of work).

I’ve been devouring Living A Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed in spare moments. That book is life-changingly good. It’s a breath of fresh air during a difficult time that feels like an uphill battle, both personally and professionally. Expect to hear more about it in blog posts here.

But mostly, I’ve been pausing to reflect on my life as I’ve been busy living it. And I decided that for a chunk of the summer and fall, I’d just go with whatever felt best/natural. That means less time hunched over a keyboard if I’m not really feeling it (especially given that I’m still getting used to the new Patheos site). I’m applying Mark Manson’s rule of thumb “if it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a hell no” to many activities, from social engagements to potential dates, and honestly I’m pretty pleased with where it’s gotten me, even if that means nope-ing out of things I might otherwise do.

I’m trying to accept that I’m just at a particular phase in the writing life cycle where I have less work to share, or that I want to share, and I’m trying to be okay with it. Of course, I state that, and then I also remember that I’ve had poetry get published recently, which is quite raw and vulnerable, and which I’m still really excited to share with the world (main examples: “Seasick” at Strange Horizons and “King Wivern” at Mirror Dance). Go figure.

I still don’t have as much bandwidth to engage with current events as I’d like. Most of my energy goes to getting through my increasingly busy days and trying not to let anxiety over the future take over. I figure I have 1-2 years of floating around and adjuncting in me before I need to find something more stable, where an accident or serious illness won’t financially ruin me.

The good news is, I’ve got great people in my corner: friends, family, and an all-around awesome support network I wouldn’t trade for the world. Things will be okay in the end… I’m just finding I have less to write about publicly while trying to sort it all out.

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