Saturday, September 19, 2020

Be the One Who Says It's Worth the Struggle


I know; it's been a while again. I haven't quite known what to say, I guess. Like many, I was thrown way off this year. I'm still thrown off. My concentration level is low. My survival instinct has taken over. It's hard to let your mind think deeply and creatively when you're in survival mode. Others have said it better, but the arts need a stable and thriving environment in order to grow, to achieve. They're always the first to suffer in hard times. A lot of us small/indie authors have found our book sales dropping to the floor, or nearly. Mine had just been picking up well with the better economy before this thing hit.

I'll admit it. I nearly stopped writing altogether. The book I started three years ago has been mostly sitting, stalled. I did do edits for a 10-yr-old book, with a new fancy cover... and then I let it sit rather than promoting it. I have no impetus to promote when so many are trying to survive. It felt wrong. It also felt unmanageable.

What I did instead was to return to my fine art. I've been painting. I haven't done a whole lot of painting. Sketching was always my medium, particularly in charcoal. But I find I'm taking to a bit like a gasping fish finally reaching the water. Maybe I headed too far down the wrong path. Or maybe I just desperately needed a breather during all of the madness, something different, something just for me.

Years ago, when I ran into an old classmate and he asked what I'd been up to, I told him about the books I had published, and he said, "You're not doing anything with your art?" Obviously, that hit me hard enough to still be thinking about it often.

Sometimes, maybe survival means finding a new path, or an additional path.

Because of the masks and social distancing mandates, my two first-grade grandbabies are cyber schooling. We're not afraid of the virus. We're afraid of the physical and social aspects of the "preventative measures." We don't want them afraid. We don't want them feeling alienated and dehumanized. We don't want them fussed at because they want to actually play with other kids, as they should be doing. We don't want them breathing in moist air on fabric that will gather and hold everything, while preventing actual fresh air they need. So, they are here with me. I'm guiding their work rather than doing my own work. I have a house full of chaos rather than free days to do what I want/need. It will stay that way until they can be normal kids again. 

Writing novels needs concentration. It needs quiet time to think. Since that's rare right now, I'm doing what other things I can instead, including a complete refinish of the porch swing with faded, stained, and tearing fabric, plus rusting metal. It's now repainted and mostly reupholstered, a job that requires a LOT of hand sewing. I may get it done just before it's too cold to use it for a few months.

As one of my hobbies, I'm a very amateur gardener, meaning I enjoy playing with growing things but I'm not terribly good at it. In the spring, I'm always gung ho to get out there and repot stuff, buy new stuff, browse local nurseries and plant catalogs, and get my winter-weary hands dirty again. Often, I even start seeds inside before it's warm enough to put them outside, just because I'm ready for spring and I want to see the little growth of the little plants that also are filled with hope.

And... then I get busy and tired and ready to move on to the next project, and some of my little plants get forsaken... like the tray in the photo above. They started well, most of them. They said, okay, plant me now, and I said, yes, soon... and then I didn't. My husband even put together a real garden area for me in the spring, fenced off to keep the deer out. Some of it did very well. I did the whole companion gardening thing and the tomatoes loved it, so we've had plenty of nice tomatoes, some onions and peppers, a few beans before we lost those to something. The cabbage got eaten but it's coming back. I have three tiny butternut squash and some celery I need to bring in. 

Last night, we had to cover it up for a frost warning. Sigh. I also threw an old sheet over the basil and parsley plants on the back deck. I wasn't a happy camper about frost already, so I was a bit grumbly about it. And then, I find that flat of things I ignored for months out beside the herbs, and the one little aster growing beyond all odds.

Aster is my birth month flower. It felt like a sign. Okay, life is tough, things aren't as they should be right now, but you can still thrive. That little plant is not in the asters section. It's in the cilantro section. I guess that's where it decided to grow instead of where I put it. 

My head said, Be That Little Aster. Bloom where you need to bloom. Hold on and just wait till the right time and then rise.

So I'm painting. I'm also writing here and there. That book will be finished when I get it finished. Other stories in progress will come along.

Yes, I need to get the porch painted, as well. I'll get there.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3)