The Lenten Quiet


Lizzy, 1915

Lent is the span of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, during which Christians are encouraged to fast and give up luxuries as a form of penitence. I would not describe myself as religious (two roads diverged in a gloomy wood, the mark of it still clear on my body), but Lent does usually cause me to pause and consider what I’m doing with myself. This year, I decided to give up bullshit.

This has included stepping away from my writing group, which has made me anxious and calm by turns. (The stepping away has made me, though I will allow the group itself has as well, heh.)

There are aspects I miss — the ritual of it for one. I’m very accustomed to beginning my day with the group, reading through posts and market news and challenges and who sold what and etc.When I automatically moved to click the group link a week ago, I had to stop myself. I had to sit and remember. And I had to consider what to do with that time, if I wasn’t going to be participating in group.

This week, that time has been filled with reading short stories I probably wouldn’t have otherwise made time for. That’s a lesson right there! Stories read for no purpose other than enjoyment. Something I rarely have time for, given how much I read for Shimmer.

I had three story contracts to read and sign on Monday (that never happens, until it does), and I missed being able to crow about them in the group. That strikes me as ridiculous as I type it. Especially since I think many in the group tend to file me under “editor” and not “writer.” That can be a tricky balance, let me tell you. Creative mind vs. critical mind, yes, but also how people you see as your peers view you. A lot of people don’t want to hear about my writing; they want to know how to break into Shimmer. Which makes me wish for a group that was made of both writers and editors — people who deal with both disciplines and want to thrive.

I hope this time gives me space to evaluate what I’m getting from the group and what I’m giving the group in return. Maybe it’s another diverging road in the wood.