The Long Game

It’s the long game I’m playing.

My thoughts are fragmented–I’m home with a sick child, scrambling to dispense medicine and drinks, cobbling together substitute lesson plans, keeping to a self-imposed revision deadline, all while working through a fog of post-election disorientation. I am torn between the desire to act–to do somethingnow, to fix and mend and heal and make the world a better place right this minute. But the passionate impulse toward big action now comes smack up against the reality that I am home with a sick child, that there are lesson plans and chores, permission slips to sign and laundry to put away. And that I am only one person, and my voice and reach and power are limited.

There is one thing I know to do, and that is write. So, yesterday morning, in a haze of disbelief and despite a profound desire to crawl in a hole somewhere on Mars, I wrote.

I am revising, writing the story of a girl. She has lost everything she knew and loved. She has been broken again and again. She has been terrorized and maimed, her shell cracked and the pieces scattered. And through it all, she writes. She writes not knowing why, certain that her words will never find a reader, but in the depths of her soul she knows that words are her salvation. She writes in ink, and when there is no ink she writes her story in soot and blood.

Like her, I do not know if my words will ever find a reader. They may not make it past a few wise and generous critique partners and the gauntlet of agents. But it feels important that I tell her story, and that I tell it as well as I can. I’ve cut ten thousand words from this manuscript already, severing the unessential, burning it away so that the story emerges on the other side keen as tempered steel.

My mind swirls with a chaos of thoughts. This story is the only place where any of them feel like they’re making sense, where I can dig deep, past fear and hurt and disbelief to the truth of story. And I don’t know if these words will ever find their way out into the world.

It’s the long game I’m playing–imagining, writing, revising, all the while knowing that my words may never find their audience, and that if they do, it will take time. I keep butting up against my own impatience, my own need to do everything RIGHT NOW. But sometimes, I just need to buckle down to the long slow work.

Besides, many writers have already articulated the things in my heart and addressed my own fears, confusion, and hopes far better than I can right now. If you need comfort, hope, or even some tough love right now, here is a short post-election reading list. I offer it to you because these are the pieces of writing that have helped me to make sense of the past few days, and galvanized me to move forward.

~If you read one response to the election, let it be Vanessa’s TinyLetter, “Must Not Break Our Bonds of Affection.” Just go read it. You’ll be glad you did.

~If you need reassurance that it’s okay to withdraw from the world for a while, and that there is healing and beauty in doing so, read Ksenia Anske’s post “The Need for Silence.” This other post is the perfect follow-up.

~If you need to hear from someone who speaks truth from a place of both deep passion and profound reason, read A. K. Anderson’s posts on the nature of man and cultural shadow work.

~And finally, if you need to be reminded that there is magic afoot in this wild, broken, beautiful world, read about Suzi Banks Baum’s New Illuminations project in Gyumri, Armenia.

Go forth and read, think, feel–and then put something out into the world that only you can, whether the making takes a moment, or a lifetime.

6 thoughts on “The Long Game

  1. I very much identified with Ksenia Anske…even as I had to check twice to see if I spelled her name correctly here. Boy, is that a tough one to get right.

    1. Her blog is always substantial and brave. I’m fascinated by her writing career, too–she’s got a really interesting way of doing things, and a unique perspective.

  2. Seeing as I am taking a social media break for at least the next two weeks, I look forward to reading all of these wonderful writers. Thank you for this list.

    May I add one more for people to check out? It is the only thing I’ve read thus far that has made me calm and clear headed…

    View at

    And lastly, I so want to read the piece that you are writing/revising right now. Please keep me on your shortlist of enthusiastic critique-ers. Big love to you Brenna!!!

  3. Oh, wow–thanks for that addition, Barb! That is excellent in the best way–real and compassionate and deeply challenging. I think we’ve come to a crossroads in many ways, not just in terms of this election, where we as humans need to start making some hard choices to be the best that we can be. Thanks for your encouragement, your support, your voice of compassion and reason. Big love to you! ❤

  4. A beautiful essay…inspiring, honest, humble, and, yes, encouraging because many of us can relate in our own way. We know the long game, too. (And thanks for the links!)

  5. Thanks, iritgud–I’m really glad you found it encouraging! The long game can be very long and isolating. It’s always good to be reminded that none of us are in this alone.

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