The day after the election, a co-worker said, “Well at least there’ll be a lot of good punk rock to come out of this.”
It’s true that many artists are inspired by political strife, civic discord, sexism, racism, hatred of the sitting president (one of the first punk songs I heard was “I Shot Reagan” by Suicidal Tendencies circa 1983). At this very moment, certainly there are thousands of musicians, painters, dancers, sculptors, and writers expressing their concerns for the country (and the world) through their art, and I suspect that we will see and hear the fruits of these efforts for a long time to come.
Since the election, it seems like everyone has become a blogger. The Internet is brimming over with people detailing their opinions on…well, everything. My once cute-animal-abundant Facebook feed is overrun with lengthy posts about the president colluding with Russia, pre-existing conditions, the imminent dismantling of the E.P.A., immigrant bans and The Wall, and the attorney general’s call for mandatory maximum sentences, sprinkled in among reposts of articles on these same topics from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, Politico, and so many more.
It seems like everyone has something to say. Except me.
I haven’t written anything – fiction or non – for months. I haven’t been able to find my words. I can’t seem to form a coherent sentence even in my own mind. I simply do not know what to think or how to feel other than terrified. And when I try to sort through my emotions, the thunderstorm of anxiety in my stomach starts up again, and I know there will be no sleep tonight.
So I’ve been spending time with the words of others. I’ve been reading Ann Patchett novels and listening to murder and true crime podcasts. I mowed through Sherlock, Happy Valley, Lava Fields, and Jessica Jones. I finally started watching Mad Men.
I spent ten days in Iceland.
Next week, I am bringing home a twelve-week-old puppy.
I am distracting myself, trying to restrict my intake of daily news to small, digestible bites. Yet I feel sick much of the time.
Of course, writing could be my perfect escape. What better time than now to throw myself into a new project, to create a whole world over which I have total and complete control? But you can’t force these things.
So for now, I’ll take baby steps. Like this one.