Less Anxiety, More Books
When I found out my family would be in social isolation for a minimum of 14 days, the first thing I did was enter into a state of disorganized chaos. I read through way to many COVID-19 cancellation emails, proceeded to harass my lovely publisher about the great unknown future of the book world, obsessed over my social media feed, attempted three different writing projects, and proceeded to cry with my many looming deadlines. I then, within a completely irrational state decided to Pinterest how best to home-school my kids for the unforeseeable future. This was a disaster. After four unproductive days, I collapsed onto the couch and proceeded to flip-flop between five different books.
Guess how much I’ve accomplished? Nada. Guess how much my anxiety increased? Yada. (a.k.a. LOTS)
But there is the silver lining. Something (a book) and someone (my darling rational husband) led me to my computer long enough to write this.
I started to re-read one of my new favorite novels by Susie Finkbeiner, ALL MANNER OF THINGS. Susie has been an author I've deeply admired since meeting her in person two years ago. She's genuine and infectious, just like her novels. This particular novel transported me to another time and space, into the lives of the most loving and endearing cast of characters. Ironically the time and space was 1960s America during the Vietnam war. One would think re-reading this story at this moment in history would only increase my anxiety. Not much of an escape. But instead of leaving this world's fears behind, I journeyed into their own fears and was left feeling a little bit less isolated.
One particular scene in chapter four really cleared my mind and helped me face my own irrational state.
The main character, Annie, is pleading with her brother Mike to slow down as they drive through the twisting turns of a country road. In response to his sister's panicked request, Mike asks, “Why do you get so scared?” He goes on to say, “Annie, you can’t live your life afraid of what might happen.”
WAM. I know this. I’ve had countless people tell me this. It’s a truth I’ve read in the Bible. It’s a therapy tool I’ve heard and shared with others. There are things outside of my control, and there is no use stressing about them incessantly. I know this, but it didn’t resonate with me until these fictional siblings hashed it out on the page for me.
This moment is why I write. This is why, I think, most authors write. It's also why we need hope-filled fiction. And fiction that not only allows an escape but forces us to confront our current fears and pushes us rationally and faithfully beyond them.
Some might think that writing about tough subjects like war, death, grief and mental illness would not offer a positive outlet, but I disagree. Through our most broken times in history, we get a glimpse at the might happens and realize the world still spins afterward. Through fictional conflicts and black moments, we are offered hope for how to face our own unique fears and anxieties.
This worked for me. It may not work for everyone. But you've got time to figure it out and at least one person who is willing to journey with you along the way.
I highly suggest picking up a copy of Susie’s novel, ALL MANNER OF THINGS. It's going to offer you so much more than an escape.
If you are looking for a more contemporary read about a broken teen weathering the storms of life, may I suggest FADE TO WHITE? Susie kinda liked it, so that's a good sign. You can order your copy HERE from the comforts of your home and the ebook is less than a Starbucks bevy, so really it's a no-stress decision. And right now, less stress is a good thing.
Stay hope-filled and sanitized my friends.