Writing through weariness in Covid-land

I haven’t blogged much lately, I’m afraid. I’ve been struggling and I haven’t been writing all that much, so I haven’t known what to say. I don’t really have all that much to say, to be honest. I feel like all I ever do is judge everybody and talk about my bitterness.

I am bitter because the longer COVID-19 goes on, the more people seem to stop taking it seriously. Memorial Day weekend and the July 4 weekend were the two turning points in the tide of public perception it seems. It is like a switch just turned off and people think it is okay to resume their normal behavior again and to start socially interacting with others. Is Zoom or Facetime really so uncomfortable that you have to put others at risk for your own needs?

That said, it is always a balance because so many jobs involve public contact, and we can’t stay closed for two years. People still need to make a living. Hopefully they do it responsibly. I consider myself lucky that I do not work as a hair stylist or a grocery store clerk and have a job at all, let alone one that enables me to work from home. I do not judge others for needing to go to work. I judge them for partying with their friends or going over to a backyard Fourth of July barbecue. That’s not necessary in a pandemic.

I have quarantined since March and I feel like the only one who is still doing so some days. I really miss my parents and I tweeted about that, and someone commented saying, “You can still see your parents, just wear a mask.” That is the exact kind of denialist attitude that has led to a rise in cases and 131,000 deaths and jam-packed hospital emergency rooms in Texas and Florida.

I have been writing some, however. I am pegging away at DRAGON GIRL, and I think I have put it off because it is now at 3,000 words, which makes it one of the longer stories I have ever written. I don’t really have the attention span for anything longer than that. That is how I am still able to write these days – flash fiction and short stories. Flash fiction is easier to get published, anyway, as many publishers are looking for it, to suit the short attention span of readers, too.

I submitted a story last weekend and it already got rejected, so I redid it and changed the ending to where it didn’t end in the protagonist’s death but the protagonist came back as a ghost. I decided to do it this way because I submitted it to a magazine that says they do not like stories in which the main character dies; they want someone to live to tell the tale. I thought that was an interesting point, and I realized I didn’t like my ending after all. So that is submitted, and to perhaps a more competitive market as well so I guess I am just piling up the rejections because I am a glutton for punishment.

I’ve been wanting to write a piece as well for a magazine that also has readers, usually other authors, read their work aloud. I finally got a good idea for that publisher and submitted it. I don’t know that I quite got a handle on their style, though, but I read my story aloud when I was editing it and it was a really interesting experience. I hate hearing the sound of my voice and actually hearing my story aloud in my voice was a terrifying thought, but it wasn’t so bad. Reading stories aloud is a tradition in creative writing for a reason. It changes the shapes of the words when you hear them as well as read them. It helped me edit it better.

In photography, speaking of COVID-19, I thought I would open a portrait business in 2021. I also thought COVID-19 would be under control in 2021. That is looking like a fanciful projection. And I am not really sure I really want to open a portrait business after all. I miss portraits and I was good at them, but I didn’t like working with people, in the end. I especially did not like working with models.

I have decided I am a nature and still life photographer now, mainly. I enjoy it more. Less drama, fewer expectations. I didn’t make any money in the five years that I “worked” with people, so for an expensive hobby that takes a lot of labor and time, I’ll stick with flowers, thank you very much.

I was getting bored of photographing flowers on my neighborhood walks, but we have started going on hikes more so I’ll be bringing my camera along. We like to go on a forest hike that is near the house and I have tried to develop a different mentality towards it. It is always crowded, it seems, and in the past, I would allow my introversion to take over and see everybody who dared to go for a walk at the same time as me as a threat, someone who could be giving me their germs. Even when those people were being responsible. I am trying to be friendlier, though.

This last time we went yesterday, most people were being responsible. They were wearing masks, for the most part. Only had one asshole young couple jogging who didn’t pull over for us and practically touched us on their way past. Couldn’t break their stride to be considerate.

Oregon has a mask mandate; you have to wear masks indoors now. Seems like more people are following it, but I’m not the one who does the shopping; my boyfriend does that.

The talk now is about reopening schools in the fall. Every proposition sounds like a nightmare that puts teachers at risk. But of course school has become a glorified daycare and we have forced parents to go to work so low-income families will be adversely affected either way. But it’s like that switch turning off – We’re tired of the pandemic, so it must be over and we need to go back to our usual routines, seeing our friends and sending our kids back to school. We can do it, they can’t lose their performance objectives for Harvard.

No, you can’t do it, and it’s a disaster. We haven’t even overcome the first wave of the virus. More people will die. And keep dying. But herd immunity was the plan all along. Sacrifice the weak for capitalism.

In other news, I started knitting my blanket, and my garden is really getting going. I need to get in there and weed. We are getting plenty of zucchini which we have been cooking with, and peas, beans, chard, lettuce and the beginnings of lemon cucumber. The zucchini is starting to get blossom end rot though, so my boyfriend read that it is a calcium deficiency and ground up some Tums to wet them into the soil, so we will see if that helps. Every time I look out at the garden it makes me happy. Having a yard does amazing things for your mental health.

I have also gotten back into practicing the guitar every day. I am starting to develop callouses and I’m learning to play Greensleeves. And, randomly, my one-year anniversary at my day job was the other week. I am a legal secretary at the Oregon DOJ and I really enjoy the work.

This week’s goals: I hope to ramp up my exercise routine. I have been slipping. I got back into the habit of going on walks every day. Got to go on those walks before the rainy season begins. I need to get back into my strength routine and running as well. I definitely don’t miss the gym bro bodybuilder types, but going to a gym and paying for it helped make it a habit. I need to develop that habit again.

I also hope to get some serious work done on DRAGON GIRL. I need to at least get 3,000 more words on it during the week. Deadline for submission is at the end of July so it’s coming up faster than I would like to admit.

Also, I was thinking the other day about what a cool thing it would be to start a journalism podcast. I would investigate some topic and interview people and host it in a mini-series narrative format, like those true crime podcasts. But I have no credibility as a journalist any more because I haven’t had a byline in just about four years. Who would want to get interviewed by me? Other writers, maybe, but not the same as experts. Anyway, that made me think I would like to start pitching articles to magazines again. Get some fresh bylines to add to my portfolio. Build up my cred and my reputation.

And that could help with copywriting gigs as well. I’ve been lazy about doing it because I’ve been depressed this last month or two. But it’s time to crawl out of my hole and see the light.

The photos in this post, on a final note, are from last weekend’s hike in Finley Wildlife Refuge.

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Enjoy my creative work? Donate $1 to my tip jars! http://www.venmo.com/denise-ruttan or http://www.ko-fi.com/fieldofstars

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