Postmarked: Dear Jen (34)


Dear Jen

Well, here we are. I’m writing this to you on day #34 of the Great Isolation, and our family has taken on quite a few new practices during this strange time. We used to try to eat dinner together at least two or three times a week, but now we eat together every night, with one of the kids choosing, and helping to make, the meal. We watch a movie most nights and try to have an intelligent discussion about the story. Already a family that read, we are now collectively reading a forest of books every week.

Besides these things, life continues on, mostly unchanged for us, and I know how fortunate we are that this is the case. I work at home. Maile writes. We both take care of the kids and the house. We fight over silly things. We make up. We try to get everyone outside to “blow the stink off.” Some days are better than others.

I love the Emily Dickinson quote you shared, “We both believe and disbelieve a hundred times an hour, which keeps believing nimble.” It does seem that, these days, our belief must be as nimble as ever. And our hope. And our trust.

Novel-writing seems to be going well. Thank you for asking! Every time I start a new story, I chide myself, insisting that I tell a more straightforward story “this time,” that I take a simpler path. And then, each time, the story emerges more complex than I planned, and I wonder if I have the skill to tell it. This one has certainly been that way. But I’ve passed the 65,000-word mark, the end of the first draft is in sight, and I feel like I’m catching my stride again.

Maile continues to wade through the grueling query process. It is probably the hardest stage for the novelist, or perhaps any writer, who wishes to see their books traditionally published. But she has started writing something new, which I always think is the key to persevering in the face of rejection. One more step. Keep those blinders on. Keep creating.

Mostly, we have been wrestling with how we want our lives to look whenever things begin to slowly return to some kind of normal. We realize now, as we sit here in this space of inactivity and relative peace, that the busy lives we were living before were not sustainable.  So it’s back to the drawing board for us, trying to figure out how to keep some semblance of this simplicity once the world reopens.

I saw online that you will be part of a podcast! I can’t wait to hear more about it. It will be more important than ever, in the coming months, to have voices that point out the light of beauty to all of us.

I don’t feel like there’s much else to share–these days come and go, each so similar to the one before it, that it feels a bit like driving through fog. Hopefully, things will start to clear soon.

All the best


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