Today, Alaskan author Deb Vanasse described a malady on her blog, and I sighed with relief. Thank god, what I have has a name. SDD – Seasonal Distraction Disorder. Okay, maybe it isn’t in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but I sure have it bad. Winter in Alaska is long and summer brief; no wonder I feel drawn to outdoor activities, long bouts of weeding, hiking or running in the sun, even sitting on my deck staring at the snow-line climb the mountains across the bay. The daylight lingers late and working at my desk, or even on the sofa, just feels wrong.
I confess that another week has slipped by without me submitting anything to literary journals. Another week and I have one draft (weak, barely breathing draft) and one almost finished poem to show for it. And if it weren’t for my writing group I would never have sat for three hours revising that poem. Never. Thank god for accountability to someone else.
I confess that when it rained (okay poured) yesterday, I felt relief because I could just sit on the sofa and read without that nagging feeling that I should be doing something. And yet, this afternoon when the sun returned, I went for a run and weeded the garden, happily. SDD, it’s here to stay for another month or so. I guess I’ll just have to stock up on beautiful photos for the long winter and squeeze my writing in late at night or on rainy days. No problem, I see the clouds rolling in over the mountains even now.
I confess that I haven’t been around here lately. After the writers’ conference, I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me. No matter where I turned there were things that needed doing…
Now, a week later I’m finally finding breathing space in the day. I’ve mowed the lawn, done many loads of laundry, caught up on tasks at my job, organized my notes from the conference, mailed objects left behind by guests, answered emails, bought groceries, cleaned up, and even gone for a few runs. And sunny weather has meant that garden tasks multiplied and have now been tackled.
Then an Oregon junco on the deck, singing for all he was worth. I confess that I dropped everything to grab the bird book. The long day continues, sun stretching almost nineteen hours. Tomorrow is summer solstice when the days start to slip away again. Even though I get more writing done in the dark part of the year, I confess I revel in the sunshine, working in the dirt.
I’m trying to set boundaries to keep from being too busy. Poetry needs breathing room, white space on the page. Roethke said, “Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.” Here’s to more art!
In case you wanted to see what one looks like completely open on my deck.
Where to start? I confess that last Tuesday, I didn’t confess, instead I went for a long walk. I’m trying hard not to feel guilty about anything these days. I am just doing my best and moving on. If I were going to feeling guilty, it might be because I haven’t submitted anything for the last two weeks, and, to be honest, I haven’t written very much. I’ve been running, gardening, harvesting wild food, working two jobs, and generally getting lost in all the magnificence of spring.
I do feel like I have some poems percolating just beneath the surface. And some other things, like some fiction. How scary is that? In fact, I’ve also structured out a non-fiction book. All these ideas just sitting like eggs in a nest, but no one is sitting on the nest. Should I feel guilty about that? It’s not like I’m spending my time watching reruns of old television shows or sitting on my sofa eating doritos and staring out the window. (Well, maybe sometimes I’m staring out the window – the light on the mountains! the birds! the amazing drift of dandelions in my front yard!)
Here’s my confession – I’ll be attending the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference from June 8th to the 12th. I doubt I’ll get much writing done on this blog. Or anywhere else. I confess that I won’t be feeling guilty about that. Instead, I’ll be hanging with other writers listening to some amazing folks talk about writing. I’ll report next week on how it went. In the meantime, just do your best and move on; no need to feel guilty.