It’s been 5 days since my last blog, where I spoke about finding inspiration for creative work. In a tragically ironic twist, since I made that post I have found inspiration to be in short supply. The fabled muse has sewn her lips shut, or she’s given up on me and gone to whisper in someone else’s ear.
This third lockdown has hit me really hard. I’ve found it difficult to focus on any one thing, be it reading, writing for university, writing my next novel, writing for leisure, etc. I’ve been very much in my own head, but unlike the moments I usually enter this state of being, I’ve been unable to harness that to generate creative work.
I’ve always been the kind of person that needs little distractions in life, in order to function. I think that’s why I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction, movies, etc. They’re an escape from the ordinary humdrum, the chance to place yourself in a different time and space. I realise that might sound unhealthy to some – diverting ones attention rather than facing up to one’s issues – but if facing them head-on was even a remote possibility, then I’d be at the very frontline of the battlefield. Indeed, I find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what I need distracting from – I guess the news about the pandemic would be one thing, but that’s almost impossible to do as it’s an intrinsic part of our lives now. And that also doesn’t explain why, on and off, I’ve always felt like I need distracting from something.
It’s probably got something to do with self-control. For whatever reason – call it upbringing, personality, whatever – I’ve always felt the urgent need to be in control of myself in every way, and that includes my emotions. Whenever I’ve been in a situation where I’m nearing the point of losing that control, I escape, quite literally, by walking away from arguments, stepping out of the room if I don’t like the way a conversation is going. And if I’m losing control of my emotions when I’m on my own – such as if I feel the grey cloud hovering over my head when I’m home alone – I stick on a movie or a TV show and forget about it.
So I guess my current predicament is that I’m in a place mentally where I can’t ignore or reject or forget. And little by little, piece by piece, the mask of composure is crumbling away.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, and I don’t want readers to think that this post is some kind of resignation to my fate. On the contrary, this is something more of a reflection – of past state(s) of mind and the one currently afflicting me.
I managed to get some creative work done this morning – it’s a short story that I’m working on, that I may either approach magazines with, or publish myself on this website. That distracted me somewhat. And yesterday I had two small victories: I did a decent home workout and baked some of the nicest seitan burgers I’ve ever made. I also submitted the second assignment of the second year of my MA (although I’m not entirely confident that it will score well, but it’s still a small victory). And I guess therein lies the answer to my current state of mind: rather than focusing on ways of distracting myself, I should search for ways to achieve small victories. Perhaps an accumulation of small victories will one day lead to a big one.
I hope this post isn’t too disheartening for my readers. I would categorise my feelings at the moment not as sadness, but a lack of happiness.
Having said all of this, I hope that everyone reading this is doing well. I know these are very tough times, but the best way to get through any sort of hardship you’re going through, be it mental or physical, is to communicate it in some way. I don’t play into the belief that everything has to be shared in order to feel a release; sure that works for a lot of people, but not everyone. But I would assert that your thoughts and feelings have to be communicated in some way, and what works is different for everyone. My best method, personally, is in writing, usually in journals that will hopefully one day be burned before anyone can read them. Find out what works best for you, in order to allow you that release from rumination, and roll with it!
For those who do find it helps to speak with someone (and I’m not suggesting in any way that this is a valid substitute for seeking professional aid) my inbox is always open and I’ll always reply (unless you’re a troll). You can contact me privately by accessing my “contact me” page via my website’s menu.
I hope that we soon reach the end of the dark tunnel that has been the reality of this pandemic!