#311: Only

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Pup in a closet.
North La Salle, Detroit, MI

We’ve heard a lot more fireworks this year—even during daylight hours—sending Matisse hiding in various nooks in the house: under the basement staircase, in a bedroom closet (above), in the empty fireplace. We got him one of those doggie compression shirts, which seems to help with the shaking but still leaves him breathing heavily and panting nervously. Sometimes he looks happy when he’s really just anxious.


I’m working toward a September deadline for the next manuscript draft, and after wrestling in the past months with whether or not the book will still be relevant in light the pandemic, and then whether or not it’ll still be relevant in light of the ongoing protests, I’m back (finally) to daily, line-by-line, scene-by-scene work.

I think the newfound rhythm is partly due to my exercising more regularly, the weather now being too hot for sporadic long walks. Funny how that works. We were lucky enough to have acquired an old spin bike at the beginning of the year, and that, paired with a cadence sensor and the Peloton app, make for enjoyable daily short-but-intense rides. Just two weeks of this has had a considerable impact on my sleep, mood, and overall energy, especially in the afternoons. I wish I’d started doing it sooner.

What’s also helped writing-wise is reminding myself to tell the story that I’m uniquely positioned to tell. When you find those kinds of stories, then it no longer becomes about being timely and relevant; then you no longer feel like you’re competing with the market. The focus shifts to opening the sieve just a teeny bit wider, to let more of yourself flow out onto the page. You breathe new life into that old saying by adding a single word: Write what only you know.

Do that, and timeliness and relevance tend to follow.