Every now and then, you need to look up.
I haven’t written or revised a single word of fiction in over three weeks.
Everyone’s process is different, of course, but this is a long stretch for me. Sometimes I’ll miss a few days or take a week off, sometimes I’ll spend only 15 minutes visiting my current project, but I nearly always have one foot in the world and the other in my work. Writing and revising, thinking about characters, puzzling over plot—it’s how I anchor myself in myself, the thing that gives my days, and thus my life, shape and meaning.
This is not always a healthy way to view your creative pursuits, which is why I’m intentionally taking a break.
When you have a project in front of you—like, for example, the novel you’ve been working on for two and a half years—you tend to get tunnel vision. This is good, for a while. Tunnel vision allows you to focus, to stay the course. To keep yourself from getting distracted by the next bright, shiny thing. Head down. Eyes on your own paper. Commit, keep going, and do not stray until you’ve reached the final page for the last time.
That’s exactly what I did. But now, there’s nothing in front of me. The tunnel has cleared. Which means, for the first time in a long time, I can afford to look around and see what I missed. I lift my gaze from the page and discover that spring is already slipping into summer. Did you know there are some really great television shows available for streaming, and also approximately 300 episodes of ER? The YMCA is just down the street, and once a week, instead of writing, I go for a run before work. Other things I just remembered: I have two overdue library books on my bedside table, we’re planning a September trip to Italy, work is bonkers right now, and I’m still learning how to be a good manager.
What is hiding in these moments, these experiences? What is waiting to be uncovered and considered, to claim its moment in the sun? What might I see, now that I have time to look around?
I can’t wait to find out.
My husband, who just graduated from PA school (🎉 💛 🙌) has been studying non-stop for his national certifying exam. Because I’m a supportive partner, I gave him the house and headed out to lunch with some friends on Saturday afternoon. We hit up CheeseSmith, a former-food-truck-turned-tiny-restaurant that specializes in bougie grilled cheese. I had the OG, a side of watermelon with lime salt, and a strawberry mint kombucha, and felt extremely supportive indeed. Just doing my part!
“For the last two years, the phrase ‘romanticize your life’ has emerged on social media as a call to action, rising in popularity during some of the grimmest months of the pandemic. It asks us to appreciate what we have right in front of us and to live with intention, no matter how mundane our daily rituals might be—a reminder to look for moments of beauty and embrace minimalism.”
As someone who writes a whole newsletter that essentially romanticizes the creative process, I approve this trend!
I really loved this issue of Lonely Victories, and not just because Hurley recommends So Relatable! As a goal-driven person who sometimes struggles with concepts like “balance” and “rest,” she offers some great reminders about how to live a full and sustainable writing life. (Congrats again, Hurley, on finishing the draft of your novel!)
“[T]he tie between liberty and choice is one Americans take too literally, and the overabundance of options—particularly in low-stakes situations—is overwhelming, hinders our ability to make good choices, and makes us sad as we stew in guilt over having made the wrong decision. And where does most of that grief take place? Inside grocery stores.”
I will never not share an article extolling the wonders of a discount grocery store. Bury me in a Trader Joe’s!!!
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Thank you to Mark R. and Hurley W. for supporting this newsletter! Subscribers like you are 100% worth the wait.
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