Come up swimming

good things


For the past week, I’ve been underwater. The week before that, I was mute.


Late winter is harsh on the body. I lost my voice, then I got the flu. The cold shakes and the fever dreams and the exhaustion and brain fog. And throughout that last week I could barely read at all.  Where do we go when we have this kind of unwellness, the kind we know we’ll overcome with time? We just sit in our cracked skin, I suppose, and wait for the mind to take a breath and function again.


Yesterday I surfaced. I went to the bookshop with D, and edited. Editing that was heartwarming, because it reminded me that yes, I’ve spent all this time and something is being made. I don’t know of how much worth. But I know I’ve improved as a writer doing it. Struggling and kicking and planing and carving and flights of fancy and sweat. Swimming in my preferred element, however ineptly I am compared to others. I’m listening to a playlist on 8tracks as I write this, so maybe that’s making me think of water, fluidity and so on. The gears are turning with outside help and though my skin is still peeling and my eyes a bit bloodshot, there it is. Thought. The bright flash of an inner field. A vista, a possibility.


The books I bought (with a Christmas gift card) are, l-r,

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, because everyone says it’s good.

Diaboliad by Mikhail Bulgakov, because of that cover and it’s Bulgakov, who also wrote-

The Master and Margarita. This version doesn’t seem to use American terms like ‘sneaker’ which has prevented me from re-reading one of my favourites – it’s been 10 years since I last read it. I’m scared I won’t be as much in love, but we shall see.


It’s good to be back on shore. Now I’m off to climb among the dunes.



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8 responses to “Come up swimming

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re coming around. I’ve hardly done any writing for the last few weeks — too much else going on. That’s my excuse. But that’s always the case, is it not. I’m vowing to begin anew on Monday. I swear.

  2. the habit of being

    I first read The Secret History in undergrad and loved it enough to read several more times. Hope you enjoy it!

  3. Helen, climbing among dunes sounds so lovely. There are gorgeous dunes a few hours away that we escape to in the summer – on a lake so large you can pretend you are seeing the ocean. There’s a bit of magic in such places. May the sun shine on you.

  4. I hope you’ll make a post of your reaction to A Secret History. I’d read it on recommendation and honestly could not see what the big deal was about it. Well done, but so are ten thousand other books each year. If you feel so inclined, let me know what you think.

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