Keeping On, Feeling Fresh

So having set up my wonderful efficient productivity app, what happened next?

Things got busy of course, with kids requiring ferrying to and from school exams, and changes to my work schedule and life in general. And when I finally had time to look up, I realised that my motivation had disappeared. Looking at all the neat little plans was like looking at something written by a stranger.

Overall, my target hadn’t changed, what I’d set up was still there and my abilities didn’t disappear, so what was wrong?

Everything was work. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling like this in the last year. When everyone is home all day everyday, even in the most equal of households everything becomes a duty, a task that must be done. The breakfast, the washing up, loading the dishwasher, putting out the clothes, reminding everyone of their homework, keeping track of class times to figure out meal times, it’s all another thing on the list of things that must be done.

In the normal times, there was an illusion of freedom in that we could ideally head off on a weekend or even midweek and go wherever we pleased and leave home and work behind. That could be a trip to the beach, a drive in the mountains or just sitting people-watching in a cafe.

But for a significant portion of the last year, everyone is home, and the virus has been raging. It’s not helped by the peculiarities of the Turkish response to the pandemic which involved restrictions on people under 20 years or over 65 years going outside apart from a few hours a day, evening lockdowns and weekend lockdowns. In short, any time that was not peak work times were lockdown times. The lockdowns were strict too, you’ were only supposed to go to a shop in walking distance for essentials open certain hours of the day. Of course the enforcement was variable, and there are stories of people taking a shopping bag in hand and wandering at will. If you were working, and have the documents to prove it, you were free to go about your business.

But for us that has meant that over the winter and into the spring any time that wasn’t working time was lockdown time.

I recently read ‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg. I’ve heard much about this book through the years but I’d never read the whole thing. So down I sat and the amazing revelation of writing as a practice, as something like piano scales or guitar chord repetitions, slapped me in the face.

With all the talk of ‘platform’ and ‘content’ and the current need to ‘monetize’ everything, from simple hobbies to complicated careers, it can be easy to forget that enjoyment should be a part of the process.

Is the purpose to be a writer? As in someone who writes with reasonable regularity? Or is it to be a celebrity? As in someone who spends more time focusing on social media than writing? Both? Sometimes one, sometimes the other?

There is no wrong choice; they are all excellent ways to spend your free time, or even pursue professionally. I find social media endlessly fascinating but also exhausting. A choice has to be made about what the focus is, even if only for this particular moment.

My feelings about writing are like a kaleidoscope continuously changing and filtering a myriad of tiny particles that tumble into a pattern for a brief moment. Just as I think I have a handle on what I want to do, the patterns change, become chaotic and then settle into something different. I used to feel this was a weakness, an inability to focus fully and to finish fully. But perhaps this is all just practice, and finishing and focusing don’t matter as much as the path taken, the process itself.

One thought on “Keeping On, Feeling Fresh

  1. Robyn says:

    Wonderful piece Catherine and really good analysis of why we’re exhausted. Yes to the writing as purpose not work.

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