Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Small Wins, by Dawn Finch

Every month I write this blog. The 7th if every month is my day and I’ve not missed one yet. Every month I post here about something to do with children’s books, or children’s reading, or libraries, or activism and how to change the world.... Every month, no matter what, I manage to find something to write about that I hope you’ll find interesting.

But here’s the thing, I’m burned out. The fire and fury of the last few months have burned out every last bit of imagination and creativity. I find myself tapping away at a game of penguins instead of doing anything useful or productive. Yesterday I sat with a book in my lap and read the same paragraph repeatedly while watching the rain. I lost two hours like that.

Obviously, this sounds like the classic signs of depression. As a diagnosed and carefully monitored depressive I know all the signs of the Dog when it bites, but this is something different. This deep and still melancholy is more akin to that felt by the wild bird who no longer batters itself against the bars or the pony that shivers but wears the bridle. This is the sigh and the sadness of passivity. It's the malaise of not feeling angry, of helplessness. Everything feels insurmountable and it’s not even making me angry anymore.

I’m not looking for sympathy here,  what I’m actually doing is saying I’m okay with this. I’ve had the therapy in the past and I have the tools to deal with this. The thing is, I know I’m not alone feeling like this. In fact, it would be a very damaged person who didn’t feel distress or helplessness in this situation. I know I'm not alone in watching my income go from Barely Anything to Absolutely Nothing overnight. I'm not alone in realising that the life I had before is now gone and replaced with something I can't yet identify. I'm not alone in wondering if I'll ever earn any money writing again. Some people have been uncomfortably successful in monetising this crisis, but I'm guessing most of us have not.

I’m taking a deep breath every day and hoping the next stage of all this is not too destructive. I am done beating myself up because I can't fix the world. Maybe I can just fix my little corner of it. Slowly. I've hand-delivered over 300 free packets of seeds all over town (I curate our Seed Library) and have helped to get our wee bookshop safe to open again. I managed to prune the allotment trees all by myself. Those are definite small wins, that feel like big wins.

Let’s all accept that we’re feeling crappy and that for most of us creativity requires freedom of thought and we don’t have that right now. Let’s all forgive ourselves for not leaving Lockdown with three new novels and a shiny new portfolio, or an immaculately redecorated house and while being fluent in a new language

I think we should all make more fuss of the tiny things we’ve been achieving and accept that they are, in fact, BIG THINGS because of the huge difficulties we’ve all faced. Let’s all look to the small wins and acknowledge that if 2020 felt like business as usual, we weren’t doing it right.

Share your #SmallWins with me on Twitter and let's spread some positivity @dawnafinch

Before CV-19, Dawn Finch was (and hopefully will be again) a writer and library activist. She is the current Chair of the Society of Authors’ Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG), and didn’t expect her first year in the role to be this challenging. She grows lovely fruit and veg and makes a fine sourdough.


Elen C said...

Wishing you all strength, while acknowledging sometimes there just isn't any more strength to be had. The allotment sounds like a good #smallwin.

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this, Dawn. Here's to noticing the small victories. My son has told me to write them down every day. Doing that would be a small win!

Marina Sofia said...

You are wise and inspiring, as always, and I hope that the world is sane enough to realise this and things get better for you.

H said...

Mum and I are counting the small wins too. Every day seems more overwhelming than the previous one. Today, I ate 4 vegetables at lunchtime so that I can have Eton Mess for tea :-)

Nick Garlick said...

So with you on the tiny things. Especially the bookshop!!!!

Nicole Bostock said...

You are a very lovely person to do so much as you say small wins and you should be very proud of those wins. Well done x

Sophia Bennett said...

Hi Dawn. I fully understand where you are on this exhausting journey, and I'm so sorry it's taken you here. However, I don't think you know how many little fires you've set raging, and how many other people you have armed for the fight with your consistent battles for availability and diversity. You are the best! As I was reading the threads kicked off by Jack Monroe this week and wondering what the industry could and should do about promoting good books, I kept coming back to "Dawn said this", "Dawn highlighted that", "Dawn made this point", "Dawn gathered those signatures". So even if you need to take a break and play penguins, your army will continue the march, I'm sure. Hugs. Sx

Penny Dolan said...

Hope you had at least one Small Win yesterday - think this post could count as that? - and that today brings even more.

Look after yourself and take things gently.

Sue Purkiss said...

I think this post is a Big Win!

Ness Harbour said...

I think this post is one so many of us can empathise with. Thank you for writing it. Take care and look after yourself.

Ness x

Jackie Marchant said...

I think this is so true for so many of us - thanks for sharing, that in itself is a #smallwin!