October 21, 2016. That's the day I drafted the last blog post I wrote on this site - indeed, it's the last time I looked at the site for a long time. I had just posted about making the second issue of my lit mag, Hapax, a labor of love. I had also been in the process of submitting works and publishing. If I look at my current CV, there is a long gap between then and now, gracefully punctuated by a few small activities.
As you may know, my relationship ended in 2017 and I had to change everything. I got a new job, moved twice, started a new relationship, and adopted a new cat. Between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017, I became depressed and unmotivated. I finished my degree in December and continued writing a novel, continued sustaining the guild and my online relationships, and that was about it. I lacked the confidence to do almost anything. There were bright spots in that time, accomplishments and celebrations, highs in my relationship, but also a lot of lows.
After settling into my new job and new living situation, I became obsessed with working. I wanted to make up for all the time when I hadn't been productive, particularly in that lost year. Finally, in October 2018, I began to take language lessons. It proved to me that I could make time for other things besides work (even though I use language skills at work). To be honest, I went a little crazy, but I learned a lot.
The biggest lesson was how to harness my previous experience and education. Everything I had studied in the past, from business ideas to freelance development, to being creative and setting goals, became relevant. I feel blessed because I use some facet of what I learned every single day - from Latin verbs to reading and understanding statistics to web design and more.
Finally, I decided I wanted to write again. I've developed a daily practice of writing and being creative, squeezing time from my carefully-managed schedule in order to write. I'm happier now and I have a lot of works in progress as well as some publications past and future to look forward to. The last part of getting back to writing was restoring a public face to the world. That means resurrecting and polishing my website, my Twitter, and, of course, this blog.
It hasn't been easy or perfect, but I think I'm ready to continue creating. I hope to update this blog at least once a week. I'm planning to do Campnanowrimo next month to generate work. And I want to continue engaging with all of you. Thank you for supporting me for the past few years and being patient with me. I hope to talk soon.
I received a publication notice yesterday for a piece of fiction. The editor must have liked it because I sent this piece only last week. This is a coincidence, but something so small can make or break your writing habits. I spent yesterday excited about my projects after a long stretch of feeling very blah about them. Suddenly, the markets I had singled out this month in my submission process had meaning again.
Part of the problem is that many of my publications are artwork and poems, which makes the prose part of the trio seem the weakest. This is for two reasons: first, I am more selective about the fiction markets I submit to than the poetry ones, and, second, most lit mags are art-starved because many artists don't know how to submit to them. However, I have been in a creative slump in all areas, but, as I wrote recently, I think the fog is clearing and that I am in for a long period of productivity.
Once, I was asked how many years it took for grief to go by, and I responded that it had been six years between Elizabeth, my first cat, running away and adopting Timmy, our new family cat. Timmy is alive and well, but Tango, the Bengal rescue cat we loved so much, passed away a bit over a year ago. Although he was old when we adopted him, he deserved the best life we could give him, and more of it in my opinion.
Pets are a strange subject to write about because they are both an eminent commonality and very proprietary. You risk adhering to the familiar and sentimental or boring your audience. I wanted to publish work about Tango; I wanted to prove that I could memorialize him in that way.
A while back, I wrote a blog post about list poems. I was experimenting with new forms, and that's how I won an honorable mention in the Binnacle's Ultra Short Contest this year for cat: a google search. Although I marketed it for the contest as poetry, it is nonfiction: a list of terms in my search history, curated over a year of owning a wonderful Bengal cat.
Why did this idea stand out? Well, after Tango's death it was hard for me to browse the web on my computer or ipad because I had spent a year googling cat terms including a lot of items towards the end of his life. Thanks to Google's autocomplete feature, which says, "Hey, you're searching for something that starts with 'ca'--let me suggest some things!" I couldn't look up anything, and I didn't want to clear my search history either. That, right there, is what grief is.