Chasing Joy and the Art of Play
Thanks to the Canada Council, my Unmotherhood Memoir, Free or Less, is with two paid beta readers right now. That means I can no longer rework it (ad nauseam). It means I have to pause and wait—on that project at least. When I’m not nervously refreshing my inbox, waiting for the accolades or evisceration to roll in (depending on my mood), I have been wondering what to do, and trying not to pressure myself.
Anyone who knows me knows this is not my forte. I’m a striver. Whether it’s nature, nurture, or some combination, a drive to be productive feels hardwired into me.
And sometimes, I let goals and ambition suck the joy from the most joyful part of my life—writing. I berate myself if I don’t spring out of bed and get to work when my 5:30 a.m. alarm sounds. I beat myself up when a funding deadline I’d been meaning to apply for passes unanswered. An army of shoulds is always ready to attack my psyche when I slip up.
But I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to keep the internalized capitalism at bay and not be so damn efficient and strategic. Fun and exploration are the major goals for now--writing what I want, when I want, whenever an idea compels me.
It’s brought me back to the early days of the pandemic when long forms seemed too daunting and overwhelming. I began to play with short stories and poetry for the first time: small manageable chunks whenever the mood struck me. I had no goals or plans. I just wanted to (and needed to) write.
I am under no illusions that my lifelong addiction to productivity is cured. Focusing on short stories and poetry again is just a series of new goals in a way. But engaging with whatever I feel like, instead of what I should be doing feels like releasing the pressure valve, at least a little. And it’s kind of nice, waking up in the morning and musing, what do I want to work on... I mean, play with, today?