I realize I have become reluctant at extemporizing what I used to call my paltry accomplishments, joys, desires, failures. I am becoming an expert at leaving things unsaid, and saying things in hinted ways. Is this what happens as one gets older? I was never for performing sociability, yet I find it helps to be just a bit more discrete, a bit more careful in my wording. But I also take shit less, and stand up for myself more. And something I thought I would never think, or say out loud, but thank god for those mercury retrogrades!
I started 2019 with no resolutions, except to keep working at my craft, keep doing my stuff, keep being lit in my own way. 2019 has been about working on my personal growth, and taking rejections in stride. When year nine of my blog’s anniversary approached in late April, I had nothing to report. I had made it to the longlist of an international short fiction contest, and had managed to submit a new dissertation chapter that I was somewhat proud of. But I wasn’t in a state of mind to write about writing. I was interviewing authors/creators on the side for Invisible Publishing, and had finished a lone book review here, two theater reviews there. But the year felt like it was moving in slow motion, while somehow, I also kept losing time.
Back in 2018, after an experience that was meant to help me write more became the reason for my inability to write fiction, I had given up on the hope of ever completing my short fiction manuscript. The past year, the two week Banff residency with Electric Literature came out of nowhere, a gift I did not know I needed. I wrote and read and slept and talked and talked and talked. The 19 other fellow writers (now, friends) + 2 very intuitive editors from Electric Lit + the supportive Banff folks that I encountered in August reinvigorated the fiction writer in me. In those two weeks, I finished 4 short stories, bringing me ever close to finishing that manuscript draft. And how can I forget Dionne Brand’s two day sojourn as a visiting faculty; her lecture and post-lecture conversations turned out to be a major highlight of the residency! After, I returned to life, and school, and my very first term teaching my very own designed course with a freshness I did not think was possible.
Of course, not everything ran to plan. I did not anticipate the toll unbidden anxiety would take on my mind, inducing sleepless nights, or the trigger one passive-aggressive communication could become leading to that anxiety, or how eventually that anxiety would break my body down. Now that that year is done, I am glad I survived. And how!
My dissertation is on course (again), and yet, I cannot help but think, how nice it must be for those who do not have to live on crip time. After all, I didn’t choose this for myself. It could very well be my internalized ableism speaking, but I cannot help but be a little jealous. I have lost time in this process, in the past few years. There are folks in my life that I seem to have no control over getting rid of, at least not yet, who have been triggers for my anxiety. And yet, I continue to survive. I know it’s not realistic to expect compassion from every single person, and especially from those who enjoy a little bit of power, but surely it’s alright to tighten those self boundaries? Surely, I can put my mental health and well being first? I choose to believe so. And the past year has been all about that, self-drawing a rekha that has nothing to do with a mythological Lakshman, but the needs of my body. I don’t care how many people I anger in the process, or how many egos I bruise, and what narrative they choose to build about me as a result. In the end, I put my well-being and survival first.
I started writing non-fiction a lot in 2019. By “a lot” I mean, two essays (one published in Daily Extra in late June, and another that was accepted by Al Jazeera on the last day of 2019!), a flash cnf piece (currently longlisted for Room‘s Short Forms contest), and several concept notes. I have been thinking a lot about my grandparents, and their journeys, and how my own journey has been a culmination of those former journeys. Gratitude always to my partner who always seems to spot a narrative in my babbling. If it wasn’t for him, I would be writing less. If it wasn’t for him, I would have given up on the dissertation much earlier. If it wasn’t for him, surviving would be much harder. Each year I survive, I wonder how I made it. It is difficult, this surviving business. Very difficult.
No resolutions for 2020, except to keep working at my craft, keep doing my stuff, keep being lit in my own way. OH AND: TAKE NO BULLSHIT FROM ANYONE. That was always the plan anyway.