January hasn't been an easy month. The sun has scarcely shown itself - not in the sky over London and not in my heart - and grey midwinter, when it blends seamlessly with your inner climate, is pretty unbearable, even though you know it's not personal and you know it's going to end. So why write, why blog, when my workload keeps growing and my energy keeps shrinking and all I want to do is escape the senseless cycle of effort, curl up and numb everything out?
(Not just a self-pity fest. I've also been seriously attempting lately to change some niggling bad habits and dependencies. This is really hard and has made the bleak midwinter feel even more grinding. It's a worthwhile effort, though, so all is not perhaps so grim).
Anyway, this is the background against which, every single day, I've thought: no, I can't summon the energy to notice something and write it down for the River of Stones January challenge, and every single day I've thought: and what's more, I don't want to. What's the point?
And every day I've moved through these thoughts and done it, and every day I've been enormously glad of such a small thing. Glad because it slowed down time and opened up a space and something else, however trivial, entered the picture. Glad because a daily practice, as I know from meditation practice, which sadly has gone by the board a bit recently, is a powerfully strengthening, stabilising, calming thing. Glad because every time was a reminder that I can pause and take a breath and look elsewhere for a moment whenever I feel sucked into a cycle of overwhelm and powerlessness, as keeps on happening when there's 'so much to do'. Glad because I somehow do still want to write and this daily writing of even a few attentive words is truly, wholly writing, and slowly, slowly eases me back into the flow of a broader impulse and ability to write. And very glad to know that a lot of others seem to feel the same.
So, a big thank you to Fiona and Kaspa for their January project and all my good wishes for their plans to facilitate an ongoing online community for writing practice. This is a potent, positive thing, as several hundred participants have already shown.
As for me, I hope to carry on. I've set up a new baby blog and will have a go at writing a few words daily, or close to daily, in emulation of some micro-blogs I greatly cherish and admire, like Dave's Morning Porch, Lucy's Out with Mol and not least Fiona's Small Stones.
I had no aim for January beyond paying close attention to something every day and describing it in a few words. Maybe this will veer off into more specific topics or formats from time to time. Maybe a single ongoing focus will emerge. I don't know yet.
It starts here.