For me June ended in a week of quiet contemplation. That small retreat from the world brought a lot of different things into sharp focus and resulted in a significant reset of both my priorities and how I spend my time.
Sometimes you don’t realise how much stress something is bringing into your life until you take a complete break from it and so it was with social media. The benefits of keeping up with friends and sharing things I love were being thoroughly outweighed by the rising sense of hopelessness and despair brought on by the sheer volume of distressing posts calling attention to the hate and fearmongering happening on so many levels and about so many things.
It wasn’t just that I was being sucked into arguments and debates that ended up eating time that I could use far more productively in other pursuits, it was affecting my moods and emotions long after I’d put the phone down and gone to do other things. Simply put I realised that spending any significant amount of time on social media was actively making the rest of waking hours more unpleasant and I wasn’t prepared to put myself in that position any more.
I can’t make the problems of the world (and how social media forces you to engage with them) go away but I can change my own behaviour to ensure that I am keeping my energy for use offline, where I can actually make a difference (rather than shouting into the void). So I’m now only popping into twitter and facebook every couple of days and consciously making sure I’m only sharing positive things and keeping up with the friends who use social media as their main communication tool. I’ve also made sure tiktok is providing a steady stream of nature walks and cute dogs and not much else! This will mean that my This Sparks Joy! posts will have less social media based items and more personal items but I’m hoping that, too, will be a positive change that my blog followers will enjoy.
Writing-wise I have two strands of work happening simultaneously:
Firstly there’s my non-fiction stuff. Aside from my blog posts I have seven other pieces of work in various states of completion which I’ve given myself the deadline of the end of August to finalise. They’re a mixture of reviews and articles and although only one of them is actually due within that time period I’m acutely aware that if certain things fall into place in the way I’m hoping they will I’m going to have very little time available for writing in the latter half of the next six months because I’ll be extremely busy co-ordinating a major life change. I don’t want to get to the point where I find that not only is my daily writing time limited to grabbing 5 or 10 minutes whenever I can but that I’m panicking about what I’m writing because I have looming deadlines to meet. I know from past experience that when the rest of my life is filled with time sensitive work I need my writing to be a sanctuary from the franticness rather than another level to it, so I’m determined to do future me a good turn by finishing them all well ahead of time.
Secondly there’s my fiction. I’m still on track with the story-a-month challenge I signed up for and still loving seeing where each month’s prompt takes me, plus I’m spending half an hour each day free-writing my way around queer retellings of folklore and legends where the focus is on crossing borders and boundaries and exploring grief and love and hope. I’ve basically just giving myself permission to play in my favourite sandpit with my favourite toys with absolutely no limits for 30 minutes a day and it’s proving to be utterly joyous.