Dryland perch of middle aged mermaid

Dear Pals:

Today we discuss: what to do when you feel invisible.

This is a quiet place. Not like the movie. *If you are crunching a cookie right now, no strange creature will leap out from the screen at you. But it is quiet. No river of images gushing by as they do in Instagramland. Those strange creatures dwell inside all of us and when they often leap out, it’s in the mayhem of social media, breathless pace and rushing images, thoughts and words which call them forth. The noise and the roar, being tossed in the foaming frenzied rush of it all. 

Gentle Waters

The Avon River at high tide. Photo by Elizabeth Sircom

But it’s gentle waters here, pal. On my obscure web site, on this page which is technically a blog but written as a series of letters for a very few unknown readers, it’s a quiet place. We all need a bit of quiet. We all need to feel that we are at the edge of the water on a summer day and no one can find us, even just for a few moments.

Pink Chairs of Contemplation

Pink Chairs of Contemplation

It’s Saturday morning and before the day roars to life like the fire I’m sitting beside. I’m looking out at the sky and the pond, excited about spring, about putting my pink chairs of contemplation back by the water. And wondering where the last two months have gone. Time feels stretched and then folded, as though we’ve leapt forward through winter on the back of some invisible horse.

What I’m Reading

Why We Can't Sleep by Ada Calhoun

I’ve been reading Ada Calhoun’s brilliant new book, Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis. Simply, it looks at this stage of life from a GenX perspective, where we are invisible in our anxiety, in a brave new world. We GenX women have been socialized to be silent. To put our heads down. To suck it up. Strangle our feelings. Enjoy the slide to invisibility. And the more marginalized you are, the worse it is. This new generation of writers and thinkers, millennials, are not being quiet. I marvel at their courage, the refusal to accept the status quo, to resist this sweep into invisibility.

Through the last four weeks, these letters have been born from a spectacular blog course I’ve undertaken. An extraordinary experience. There is such pressure for writers to have a social media presence. That would be awesome if social media didn’t destroy my brain, my happiness, my patience, my ability to read a book, to be present for my family, ha ha ha.

Single parent years
in tiny town straight outta a Stephen King novel.

The Writing Life Lives Inside

Real Life

I thought having a blog would be a great way to, you know, have some sort of presence as a literary writer. And yet, I don’t even write about novels and short stories, ha ha ha. I don’t write about my writing life. I’m resigned to my literary obscurity and my time is spent reading and actually writing, not talking about it.

Here, I explore the ephemera and details of daily life, the life a writing life exists within. It’s far too easy to forget this, the life we inhabit is what contains the writing life, not the other way around. It’s taken me so long to understand this. And I’ve seen so many writing lives destroyed by the misperception, that it’s the writing life which makes life real. 

This is the final week of our course and as sit here in my red chair by the fire tapping this out on my keyboard, what I’m wrapped up in is the quiet, the ease and solitude which is inherent in this form.

My off season coffee cup…the beauty of silhouette.

Reflection and consideration. Focus. Qualities often missing in busy life. Considering just one small detail. Seeing my home life, my work life, my surroundings and possession, my routines and habits and rituals, from a new perspective.

The biggest gifts of being a blog scholar with Kerry:

  1. Seeing ordinary life anew, the exotic in the everyday
  2. Embracing the quiet
  3. An unexpected urge to try new things, to tackle what I’ve been putting off
  4. A desire to make space and take up space
  5. Breaking free of early socialization as a GenXWomanPutYourFuckingHeadDownNowDangerBeAGhost.

Focus

Last night I looked at this beautiful piece, a collection of photos: Parked Cars Under Street Lamps in 1970s New York City. The title and the images work beautifully together. The specificity and the simplicity, and the complexity which is then born from this, a capturing of place and time, each photo a story. The art, the focus of the artist in their environment. I feel that over the last four weeks, I’ve found this again. That what we need surrounds us. We just need to look up. 

The Lost Age of Letters
photo by Joanna Kosinska

I’ve learned to focus quickly on an idea and image, the same way I write real live paper letters to friends.*

If you want to learn to blog, to have a place where you are the curator of your thoughts, where you document your days and train of thoughts, I really can’t recommend this course enough.

Blog School

Kerry Clare, Multi-talent Wonder

Check out the Blog School offerings. Kerry Clare is a multi talent wonder. Without the weekly deadlines and the incredibly helpful feedback and guidance, I would have continued to only think about fleshing out my web site with a blog. It seemed unwieldy. Now it seems simple. Miraculously, I’ve overcome my fear of technology and figuring out Divi Builder and WordPress.

On Being Visible: Conundrum Press

I Can See You Being Invisible by Andy Brown

Long ago, before my husband started Conundrum Press, he was a literary writer. He wrote a book called I Can See You Being Invisible. It’s for another letter why he stopped writing. We’ll just leave it at how humbled he felt by having children, the domestic life, and how it precluded the enormous stretches of time required by long form fiction. He found it more compatible to help birth the work of comic artists.

I’ll Be Seeing You

This is what blogging is about, that we can see each other even when we feel invisible, that through time and space and memory and algorithms, we see each other. We hear each other. That in the quiet, we are briefly together. 

Can you see me being invisible?

I see you being invisible. I hope you see me too.

Sparklies from Nova Scotia,

Christy-Ann, alumna, Blog School, Pickle Me This

*by the way, I did love the movie and am counting down to the sequel!

*If you want to be in touch through the old ways of mail, please send me a postcard. I always write back. You can find my address here.