The last six weeks, since November 2nd, have been rough. I haven’t talked about it here much, but my husband’s business had to fold, and there were some urgent financial things to be done, all of which took time and energy and caused me, and him, quite a lot of stress. In the middle of it all I was learning a new job and keeping up with the writing I’d taken on, trying to put my new schedule together and keep my life running more or less smoothly. During those six weeks I often felt that time was rushing by, and that I’d no sooner sat down to a task than it was time to get something else done. Everything seemed to be incredibly urgent, no doubt an effect of the stress.
The store has been closed, the stuff left over from it – and there was a lot, although not as much as I’d feared – moved home. There’s still organizing to be done; nobody’s home is made to accommodate the leftovers of a business, and floor space is now severely limited. We’re hoping to get stuff onto ebay or some similar site and get it sold and moved out, but until that happens, if it happens, the house is rather full.
While I’ve been keeping a calm exterior – mostly – I’ve sometimes felt like my hair was standing on end. Through it all I kept writing; I had blog posts, newspaper articles, poet-for hire jobs, editing work and the novel, all of which required attention, imagination, care and time. I couldn’t let those writing assignments fall by the wayside, even if it looked now and then like some other important stuff was going to tumble.
What I realized from this whole experience was how integral writing is to my life. Even when that life is in chaos, I can still write, and write well. Nobody has said of anything I wrote in the last month, “Obviously a contractual obligation” or “She’s off her game today, isn’t she?”. In fact, I’ve had compliments on a couple of pieces I wrote during that time. It’s comforting to feel that writing’s so ingrained in me now that I can do it when life is less than easy.
Perhaps it’s only when we’re really pushed that we find out how good we are – or not. I don’t think anyone would have blamed me for asking for an extra week on something, except, of course, me. I see nothing immodest in my acknowledging that I am good, and that my accomplishments in the last six weeks were beyond the ordinary.
If I needed a sign that I’ll be able to finish The Swan Harp even with this more crowded schedule, I’d say I’ve received it. Now that the whole crisis is over and not running around in my mind like a demented hamster on a squeaking wheel, I feel a remarkable expansion of time. Today has seemed very long, as though there is infinite time to get any task done.
That feeling will likely wear off over time. I hope it’ll hang around for a while, though, making me feel like 3,000 words a day is a perfectly achievable goal, with time left over for tea.