Writing Romance While the World Burns


Damn, 2020 is bringing serious hellscape energy. Barely a week in, and my social media feeds are full of koala bears with 3rd degree burns, drone strikes, missile strikes, racists, the collapse of RWA and the demasking of a lot authors.

It’s 4:30 pm here, and dark. Because winter. My writing production is low; my handicraft production is lower. My house is looking post-apocalyptic. My gym shuttered last month. The winter holidays and NYE fell on days my in-person writing groups meet so no encouragement or accountability. Oddball obligations kept me from my online group.

Things may or may not get better, but my god, I’m going to art harder. Turning off and detoxing from social media has been hard—I care about the world and all the people in, and so it’s difficult to log off of their pain and write fantasy. It feels icky to write a battle or an argument or betrayal because WOW the world has enough of that right now.
Turning off social media and the news has been hard, and oddly makes just as much anxiety for me as scrolling. Leave social media for a few hours and return to learn all the terrible stuff is still roaring plus there is new terrible stuff. There is not enough herbal tea and deep breathing to compensate.

I am blessed, though. I have an amazing network of friends and fellow creators. I’ve been dm-ing and e-mailing more. The ultimate curation of my feeds, I suppose. But a few minutes of squeezing over the guy who played Rumlow in Captain America: the Winter Soldier or cracking in-jokes about an rpg or trying to one up each other with the most lavish, succulent, out-of-left-field happily ever-afters for our stories is exactly what I need to keep artmaking feeling vital and necessary and worthy.

And this current hellscape, so full of hopelessness and helplessness, thrives on sapping vitality. Revels in declaring art, stories, voices and people unnecessary and unworthy. We, me and you, the people in our lives, the people in our world aren’t shirking the world’s woes by choosing to spend some hours engaging our imaginations.

In the fitness world, there’s a term “active rest”. It means that though you are taking a day off from your hard workouts, you aren’t just lounging on the couch for twelve hours. You’re hitting the beach or going for a long walk or running around with the kids. I want to get to a similar vibe with my writing. Hours of creating that allows me to emerge back into the real world refreshed and ready to right some wrongs.

Which, easy to type, harder to actually do. A lot of my confidence and go get’em is tangled with my writing—both quantity and quality. Working on detangling, but it’s a process, let me tell you. When creating feels unnecessary and selfish, a bad day at the keyboard feels twice as bad. And makes heading back into the word mines the next day twice as difficult.

But, I guess, the other option is trying to navigate this hellscape without the little hopes and happiness and self-induce squeezing my writing gives me.

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