Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim.” Frida Kahlo

I’ve had a tough time writing of late. The work of my new project, a work of fiction is playing out on the news every night. Dystopian fiction, which is a new genre for me, has at its core one human calamity after another. I don’t think I’m writing history as it unfolds, nor do I think the question I’m trying to answer in my new project—what would we be prepared to give up for peace—is unique. Many writers, far better than me, have explored some aspect of this query.

I’m stymied because I’ve been far too focused on the latest updates about the COVID-19 situation. That’s one aspect of my stalled productivity. The other has to do with my persistent insecurity of the vocation I only took on less than twenty years ago. I mean really what do I have to say of import about anything. And who cares? The world is falling apart. 

Sitting idle at their desks, some of my colleagues ask themselves similar questions.

Getting to the desk and sitting is key to getting back to writing. Ten minutes is what I commit to every day. It’s nowhere near what I was doing before the pandemic, but it’s a start. 

Some days I’m able to get 200 words down, other days, absolutely nothing comes. It’s painful when words don’t flow. I get it. 

I try not to beat up on myself. There’s no point. Instead, I read a bit of poetry (here is one I loved: To Be Of Use, by Marge Piercy) or fall into the pages of a good book. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend, Overstory by Richard Power. Reading helps remind me of the importance of the written word, how our voices need to be heard. Writers will make sense of this crisis through their work, one day, and we will find some perspective.

It’s okay not to feel okay at the moment, a friend of mine wrote this week in an email. I totally agree. And just as equally important is to find a way to keep on keeping on.  

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