Over the previous two weeks, my day job has been eating my brain. During this time, our leader was out for medical reasons — and so, faced with an an oppressive and immovable deadline, I was working 10-11 hours days in order to complete a total of nine articles (each 3,000 words or more) over the course of eight days, as well as keeping the website updated with new articles. This was in addition to two hours of daily commute.
The exhaustion during this time was intense. I could measure how tired my brain was by the level of pressure inside my skull. I started developing headaches and back pain. I had trouble concentrating. My emotions were chaotic.
One night, I came home so tired that I felt drunk. I was dizzy, couldn’t keep my balance, and when I flopped down onto the bed to sleep, the room began spinning.
I don’t recommend this.
If it had been possible, I would have pushed the deadline back a few days or even a week — a more reasonable timeframe that would have enabled me to work at a pace more conducive to my physical and mental health. Since, that wasn’t an option, I had to find ways to provide self care that would help to keep me going and finish the work.
I have news! Things that have been happening! And so forth!
Thing the First: This week Corvid Queen (a literary journal published by Sword & Kettle Press) announced their nominations for the Pushcart Prize. I am so incredibly chuffed that they choose to nominate my short story “How Bluebeard Ends” along with five other amazing works. “How Bluebeard Ends” is a story that went through a number of rejections before it found a welcoming home at Corvid Queen. I’m honored that the editors liked it enough to nominate it.
Thing the Second: The Fall 2019 issue of Star*Line is out, and I’m happy to report that it contains my poem “Bride of Frankenstein: Our Lady of Rage,” which they have also shared online. To get the full serving of great poetry, however, be sure to order the print copy.
Thing the Third: I do have more cool news, but I can’t quite talk about it yet — so instead, I’ll tell you about my newsletter, through which you can make sure you’re fully informed about this future announcement, as well as getting my thoughts on writing and life. The news is that I have decided to switch my newsletter over to Substack, which provides many more tools for community building — such as the ability for readers to like, comment, or share posts. It also includes an option to monetize newsletters, but for the time being I’m sticking with things being free as they’ve always been.
California has a tendency to fool me this time of year — days swinging into cooler temperatures one week and then quickly rebounding into heat. Summer clings, refuses to let go. Leaves rarely yellow or brown in the expected colors of the season. The Fall never really feels like Fall.
And yet, October is my favorite month. The advent of Halloween carries with it the whispering of spirits, the trickery of fae folk, the glowing of jack-o-lanterns, the dancing of skeletons. It’s a powerful time, a witchy time.
The days are dimming, growing shorter. The nights are darker.
This can be comforting. Darkness and shadow can be a fertile space for transformation — bulbs and seeds lie hidden within the earth, gestating, awaiting their moment to burst forth and bloom.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m feeling a desire to draw in, close off outside influences, and wrap myself in the comfort of hearth and home. I long for rich, warm foods, good books, and quiet.
What I’m desiring is not only an external drawing in, but an internal one. As I settle into what comforts me, I’m wondering what lies within the shadowy places within myself. What have I kept hidden? What fruits can I reap from this year’s work? What do I want to plant anew? What do I wish to nurture and grow?
What about you?
Note: This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my (semi)-monthly newsletter on the writing life and things that are interesting to writers. If you enjoyed reading this, please check out the archives and/or subscribe: