How To Write When There Is A Rooster in the Basement

#HereBeDragons with a sneak peek at my work in progress.

It’s hard to stay focused these days. Between keeping up with the constant storm of news, processing the constant stream of ugliness, raising kids in a scary world, teaching, and taking care of the rooster in the basement–yes, there is a rooster in the basement. He tangled with an opossum on Sunday evening, lost his comb in a mighty act of heroism, and is recovering in the basement where it’s quiet and warm. So. There’s been a lot going on. The last thing I’ve felt capable of doing is writing. How can anyone write stories when the world is the way it is? How can I justify taking time for this when there are students to teach and children to raise and senators to call and articles to read seeking truth and a flipping rooster in the basement?!?

Yesterday, I got my seventieth rejection letter. I’ve managed to get several full requests, but no offers of representation yet. It’s time to start working on the next book I’ll query, but it’s hard. Hard to focus. To calm down from the latest outrage enough to slip into another world, into someone else’s experience. And it feels like a horrible luxury. But the beauty of that rejection is that it’s reminding me to keep going. Ironically, it’s reminding me of what I can do.

I keep reminding myself that stories matter. They are ways of seeking truth, and the truth has never been more crucial or embattled than now. So rather than keep thinking about the million important things clamoring for my attention, I’m going to dive headfirst into this revision. My voice isn’t loud. It doesn’t reach very far. But I can speak the truth of this story–perhaps this is the most important thing I can do.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to stay focused, to center your creative work in difficult times.