Well, it’s quite the year we’re having. This update has taken various forms over the last few weeks: drafted, abandoned, re-drafted. Tweaked. Changed entirely. With everything going on, some of my early drafts didn’t sit right with me. Then there was the compounded physical and mental exhaustion. Then the sheer lack of time. And, before I knew it, months had passed in that strange way they are passing this year.
On Saturday, shielding was finally lifted in Scotland, meaning Euan (masked and armed with hand sanitiser) could go to a supermarket for the first time since mid-March. It’s certainly going to make things easier, seeing as he’s the only one who drives out of the two of us. I had quite a fun (well, ’fun’) time, as a non-driver, administrating our lockdown; making sure adults, toddlers and puppies were all equipped with whatever they needed. As shielding has now ended, it also means that Auri can now return to nursery. Part of me is so relieved I could cry, but I know I am going to miss her. I will not miss stretching a patchy working day out between anything from 5.45am to about 8.45pm, but I am so oddly grateful that I could spend so many hours with Auri in this critical phase of her life whilst still being able to provide economically. I don’t feel like I have managed to do anything fully and properly since March, but the fact we (and, for avoidance of doubt, it is most definitely a ‘we’ rather than an ‘I’) have managed to keep Auri happy and healthy - even if in the last fortnight or so she has clearly started to get a bit bored - feels like nothing short of a miracle. At the start of lockdown, she was still just crawling. Now, she is running on uneven woodland paths and climbing on everything. A paw-to-palm high five with Scapa is also due. She has played a big part in entertaining Auri and encouraging her to get moving.
So, as a family, we are now entering into a new phase of this 2020 madness. We are all still well and happy, and are grateful every day for this, but the world seems to be getting more and more precarious. We’ll see where the rest of the year takes us.
Self-Rationalisation (of sorts)
The one me-thing I have managed to do over the last few months is finally to (re-)rationalise my online presence in light of this changing world and what and how I want to communicate in it. This took (as a conservative estimate) about twelve times longer than I thought it might, and was reviewed in a few stolen early morning moments.
Early morning is now the only time of the day I have when I can confidently hope for at least an hour on my own. Over the last few months, I have managed more mornings than not to carve out some slithers of time to myself. Euan takes Scapa out about 5am, and then returns to bed with tea and something to eat for both of us about half past. After this, when Euan settles down for Sleep Mark II, I catch up on reading a few newsletters and articles, and then either try to write or make the most of a dry morning to get outside and battle onward with the gardens (more on this another time).
In those early mornings when all three of them stayed asleep for another few hours, I eventually managed to carve out a way forward. I have missed writing so much. I have missed communicating, sharing ideas. I’ve missed engaging on Twitter as much as I used to, though taking more of a step back recently was definitely the right decision for me.
Creating is important to me, and is a fundamental part of who I am. So, to try and make sure I have some sort of infrastructure where I can share some of the things I am working on and others I have completed, whilst knowing that at times Life may mean I can’t work to a set timescale and everything becomes a movable feast, I have come up with the following.
I was intending to use As She Flies on Substack to test out some of Substack’s community features throughout this year, with a view to deciding how to use it in future. Several of you receiving this email update signed up for the forever-free option of also receiving access to comment on and participate in discussion threads in order to collaborate on the essays I was planning to write. All things have changed since January, not least access to increased community features, my plans, and the world. I’m sticking with my original model, but shall be sending all updates for the time being to everyone: I plan to maintain a monthly update, and share an essay sketch and a completed essay each month. I enjoy using Substack to collaborate on essays, and sharing final drafts with you all. It is still my intention to then revisit these essays and re-edit further down the line. In terms of immediate outputs, I will be sharing my essay on curating people shortly, will be sharing my next essay sketch on Monday, and will be sharing my essay on the sound of life later this month. I have missed two months of essays, and I haven’t decided yet whether I want to catch up with these, or just reformat my original plans.
As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media, and Twitter (the only non-blogging social media platform I have consistently maintained) has been making me sad for some time. I have been on and off Twitter for more or less the whole year, but have wanted to have a cleaner and fresher place to still share some thoughts and interesting links. As a result, I have created a Ko-Fi account, where from Monday to Friday each week I will share an excerpt from my notebooks or from a work in progress, an interesting article, or perhaps a photograph. All of these will be accessible to everyone. I like this idea of throwing out thoughts into the ether in this manner and enjoying the comparative silence of a non-quantified world without likes and retweets. It’s probably the #TeamQual aspect of my personality creeping through.
My own personal website will predominantly now be used for occasional observations relating to my research interests. No set schedule for this, but as and when I feel as if I’d like to share thoughts about folklore, place, and all the other things I’ve studied or which interest me, I’ll share a post.
And, finally, ShiverWriggle will be lurching into action again after her latest substantial hiatus. She’s had a dusting down, and will now act as a home for various features which have started life elsewhere, including my thoughts on education and updates from my ridiculous family. The Misty Solitudes will be a new running feature, detailing the woods behind our house throughout the coming months, and Euan and I will hopefully shortly start detailing another exciting project we’ve been toying with for several years. I’ll also share monthly A Murder of Crows updates, if I can keep up with everything that my other ridiculous family is doing at any given time.
Between these four outlets, and occasional tweeting, I’ll be sharing embryonic thoughts, works in progress, and final essays and creations. Though at this stage I neither expect nor want anyone reading anything I share to pay to do so, I have deliberately chosen platforms where (if the future demands) I can utilise in-built platform payment functionality to save me any potential headaches further down the line. Who knows what we’ll all be doing a year from now in this brave new world.
That’ll Do, Donkey-Pig
Next month’s update will look a little more familiar, but I think I’ll leave this here for now. I have noticed from the newsletters I subscribe to that there has been an increasing dip in energy. Here in the UK, it’s almost as if - just as some of the restrictions on movement and activities start to show signs of coming to an end - everyone has realised that this could all go on much, much longer in some form; and everyone is already nearly at the limit of their reserve energy.
So, that’s enough from me for now. How are you all?
‘til next time,
4th August 2020
Croy, Highlands, Scotland