Finally have done some writing. A flash, a few micros, I like them. Finally read something that wasn't just escapist, and was not only inspiring, but good for my WIP: Sheila O'Connor's Evidence of V. So now instead of feeling guilty about not writing or reading anything good, I'm feeling guilty about falling behind in my online workshop and my reading for CRAFT. But I feel like I'm regaining the ability to concentrate, which means I should be able to catch up today and tomorrow. Almost finished grading the essays in my workshop, need to send out emails, go over the Discussion Board. Will post grades for my very last class in a career of 32 years in just a few weeks.
The summer flash issue of LITTLE FICTION/BIG TRUTHS will be out (I just went over proofs for my story "Sooner or Later") and I'm excited to be part of it. I'm not publishing all that often, and an issue like that is always like a party.
We spend a lot of time making grocery lists, getting groceries ordered and delivered (mostly Steve does that), planning meals, cooking. I'm mostly enjoying it, wondering whether we were missing the point of life by not concentrating on the pleasures of cooking and eating together in our pre-pandemic life. I'm ready to sustain this shelter in place for a long time and it looks like it might be necessary, for people in our age group at any rate. Steve and I are worried about what to do when the shelter in place is lifted and Ben moves back to Oakland. They predict that the second wave of the virus in fall/winter will be worse than the first. Will it be risky to see Ben in person after that? I'm worried about him too. If he's required to return to work, he'll be taking BART.
Today the cnf editor at ATTICUS REVIEW, Chauna Craig, posted about negative space and negative capability and the absence of so many things we're used to. Here's a rather long quotation from her letter that spoke to me:
What the pandemic and these books brought home to me is how little anything outside of my own heart and mind actually needs my attention. Yes, my children and my students both need guidance as they navigate the changed world, and my body needs the usual life-sustaining practices. But as I’ve exhausted my most useless anxieties and run out of busy-making tasks, I’m left with the me that goes deeper than the optics of Facebook or Zoom, deeper than my now heightened sense of mortality, deeper than any sense of obligation for who I think I should be in any circumstance. That deep place is a scary place only because I stopped hanging out there, stopped allowing myself familiarity with life’s negative space.
I’ve finally recognized how this long stretch of absence from my workplace and my friends and family may be my opportunity to not return to what became my normal. I want to make peace with negative space, to lose a self that wasn’t ever my own, to see what’s really there. I don’t know how this will shape my relationship to the world, my writing, my sense of self, but I don’t want to reach for those answers. I’d rather, to paraphrase Rilke, learn to (again) love the questions themselves.