The Good Kind of Pressure

It’s no secret that life at the moment is absolutely insane. This virus has the whole world on edge, hiding in our homes to avoid infection. Some people are coping better than others. As an introvert (mostly—the Myers-Briggs always has me one point away from extroversion), staying home isn’t so bad. I’ve worked to make my home cozy, and though it’s very small, I’m lucky enough to have two roommates (one human, one feline) and a yard. I’m struggling with teaching online but I love not having to go downtown for work or fight for a seat on a crowded, dirty bus every morning. On the other hand though, I miss seeing friends and coworkers, and I particularly miss the corner cafe that I usually spend a lot of time in. Like all non-essential businesses, my “happy place” is currently closed. Still, there are things I enjoy. I like having more time to cook healthy meals, and believe it or not, I’m exercising far more often since I’ve been stuck at home. There’s an amazing variety of workout videos on Youtube, and I feel a dramatic improvement in my mood after I do one.

You’d think these major changes would equate to more writing time too, wouldn’t you? Well, unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Online teaching requires an enormous amount of prep work, and after 5 hours of live teaching a day, my desire to spend more time on my computer is completely nonexistent. For this reason, my poor novel has sat neglected, leaving me with a guilty feeling at the end of each day.

That is, until now. After three weeks of neglect, I was finally forced to look at my novel today, since my monthly writer’s group decided to have an online critique session. And boy, am I grateful. I confess, I didn’t even want to join in, at first. I felt so guilty at having ignored my project, and the idea of even attempting to get back into the right mindset was almost too daunting to consider. But then I thought, what else would I be doing instead, on a rainy Sunday while practicing enforced social distancing? Essentially, I had no excuse.

I’m so glad I gave in to the pressure. (Not that they intentionally pressured me. This was 100% in my head, but that doesn’t make it less real.) It felt amazing getting back into the swing of things and talking about my work. It felt equally amazing seeing familiar faces. We had a good deal of “checking in” before we started our readings, which was what I needed, since I’d woken up feeling mopey and downtrodden. (A consequence of seeing the crappy weather and realizing I wouldn’t be spending time in the yard.) When it was my turn, I read a scene I wrote about a month ago and hadn’t looked at since. It was well received, which was good because it served as a reminder that I don’t totally suck. Before I took this unintentional break from writing, I’d been stuck on a character problem I didn’t know how to solve, which felt like an overwhelming, insurmountable task. The problem is still there, but I’ve now resolved to tackle it in baby steps, rather than all at once.

All in all, meeting with my critique group served as a refreshing kick in the butt, and made me feel more capable of diving back into my work. I look forward to digging back into it tomorrow after my actual paid job, although I’ll need to take a significant break from my laptop between the two! If I can do at least an hour of writing tomorrow, I’ll feel good about myself. It may sound like a small goal, but in the midsts of this pandemic, we all need to take care of our personal needs, and for me, that includes artistic fulfillment.

I hope everyone out there is finding ways to stay happy and fulfilled and mentally stimulated. If you’re still searching for that special something to keep you afloat, I’m telepathically sending creative vibes your way. Do you feel it?

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