The sound of the percolator nudges me awake before the scent of coffee reaches my nostrils. I’ve been setting the timer for 6:00 AM to coincide with my alarm clock. I find it easier to wake up when I know the coffee is already waiting for me. For the last week or so I’ve been waking up early to figure out how to turn one of my short stories into a novel. It was going great until I realized that I didn’t want to write about it anymore – the short story is set in the present tense and the pandemic plays a huge role. WHO WANTS TO WRITE A STORY ABOUT THE PANDEMIC WHILE THEY ARE LIVING THROUGH IT?
Who would want to read about it?
So now I must start again, from scratch. Usually a blank page fills me with a combination of doubt and excitement, anxiety and relief, fear and courage. Right now, opening a new Google Doc knocks the wind out of me. I am extremely fatigued, too fatigued to think about coming up with a plot and then writing 100,000 words. I’m trying to focus on the moment and the task at hand but it’s proving difficult.
It doesn’t matter how much self-care I’m doing, how much fresh air I get, how much I work out, or how many hours I sleep, I wake up tired and go to bed exhausted. I force myself to write or read while sipping my morning coffee, I shower, put on makeup and do my hair – even though I’m working from home and no one sees me. I find my energy draining faster than it used to and filling up my coffee cup a third time isn’t helping anymore.
Perhaps it’s just a funk or the I’m hitting the pandemic wall – either way I hope it doesn’t last too long.
A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I FINALLY finished a manuscript I had been working on for four years. It started out as collection of my blog posts, then it turned into personal essays, and finally into a collection of short stories. After writing personal essays and blog posts for so many years it was a nice change to be removed from the center of the story.
Bringing together stories inspired by my Italian and Portuguese roots, the manuscript is a collection about feminism, family, mental health, and chasing dreams. Each story follows a path to pain and explores the strength required to get to the other side. I know that the word count for this manuscript isn’t enough to land an agent or get it published, but the collection feels finished to me.
Instead of shoving the stories in a drawer to be forgotten forever, I’ve broken them up and started submitting them to magazines and online platforms. Oh, one of the stories was published on Thought Catalog in their LIFE/FICTON section. There are two stories that I want to work on as longer works of fiction – ideally turn them into novels. If I’m honest, the idea seems incredibly jarring. Since finishing my manuscript, I haven’t written or planned out much of anything. All I really feel like doing is going for drives with my husband or grabbing coffee. Thanks to lockdown 2.0 and working from home (which I both understand and am thankful for) I feel a bit awkward when I’m out of the house. The last time I went to The Roost Cafe, I couldn’t figure out where to tap my debit card to pay for the coffee. I got flustered, my face turned red, and the person behind the counter had to show me a few times how to pay.
Stepping out of the cafe with my coffee in hand (and pulling down my mask to breathe in that crisp winter air) made the awkwardness totally worth it though!