A few weeks ago—back when we were complaining that Black History Month was cancelled and we should move it to June; back when our anxieties were high but not astronomical—I was scrolling Twitter and saw a tweet that asked writers to share the most hopeful poems, essays, and stories they had written. I didn’t post anything. And I didn’t bother reading the responses. Off the top of my head, I didn’t believe I had written anything that could be classified as “hopeful”—at least not how I saw it as the author. It’s always different for readers.
I tend to write about heavy stuff. That’s because I’m trying to unpack some things so my shoulders can loosen up, my smile can be brighter, and one day the essays and blog posts about the joys in a morning walk will outnumber the ones about maternal mortality rates, racism, and so forth.
I don’t regret focusing on those things. That’s where I am right now.
But now we’re also in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And everywhere I turn, there are sites asking for writers to talk about how they’ve been affected by the virus. Their fears. Their anxieties. Their collapsing mental health. The struggles of suddenly being unemployed and/or a stay-at-home parent. The woes of working remotely with their partners.
There’s a lot roiling around inside me as I traverse some of these topics and back again. But to write about them now would be putting kindling on a particular fire that I’m not interested in feeding.
So, now I’m writing about hope. Who woulda thought?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. It just happened. The stories I couldn’t develop endings for suddenly came together in unexpected ways. Where I expected them to lean toward tragedy, life and light sprouted instead.
I think I’m writing what I need most right now. This new direction has been a nice distraction that’s revealed more of my capabilities and shown me how much more I should be leaning toward recreating joy and hope in my writing, even if it takes a little more effort for my brain to go there. There’s no ignoring the pain and anxiety of our past or present. But that sweet taste of hope should always be near.
What I Read:
by Zadie Smith
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 Vol. 3: Wolves at the Gate
by Goddard, Jeanty, Whedon
Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 Vol. 4: Time of Your Life
by Whedon, Moline, Loeb
In the Dream House
Carmen Maria Machado
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 Vol. 5: Predators and Prey
Joss Whedon, et al.
I Know You Rider
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 Vol. 6: Retreat
Espenson, Jeanty, and Whedon