Gratitude for Whims and Kindnesses

It’s no secret that the last year or so has been kind of an odd one. I think that’d be a fair thing to say, and also a huge understatement.

Here’s the thing about that: I’ve been really lucky in a lot of ways. My job hasn’t been at risk, and nobody close to me has been seriously ill. For a lot of people, it’s been a much worse time, and I don’t mean to downplay that at all. That said, I’m not going to focus on it, because I think we’ve probably all heard enough about that; in this post, I want to be a bit grateful.

As you might know, I published Each Little Universe at the end of April 2020, at which time the UK (where I live) was in the early stages of a national lockdown, and it was all a bit weird. I was working from home for the first time, there was a lot of nervousness just generally flying around, and everything basically seemed very uncertain and strange.

But, y’know, there was a bit of a silver lining for me, in that I was finally doing something about the whole ‘oh hey I should be writing stuff’ thing that’d been floating around for my entire life. So that was something.

More than that, though, I’ve learned in the six or seven months since publishing ELU that… holy heck, there are a lot of cool people out there. I already knew this to some extent, since I’ve made amazing friends from my time blogging about video games, but things have really accelerated for me lately. The world’s been slowed right down, but it’s been the most creatively productive time of my life, and I owe that to two things:

  1. My other half, whose constant support to push me to actually do stuff is the only reason I manage to get things done;
  2. The Internet, which it turns out is actually very good for connecting people.

And, yes, there are problems with the Internet and with people on the Internet, and you should be careful when interacting with people in that way. That’s a whole topic in and of itself, and I’ve probably been luckier than I’d realised that my interactions haven’t got weird or unpleasant. (To everyone who’s been openly Not A Straight White Man on the Internet, I cannot imagine how hard that must be, and again I don’t mean to downplay that side of things here.)

What I really want to focus on, though, is just taking a moment to be grateful to the people I’ve met since putting ELU out there into the world, and some of the people I already knew but have got to know perhaps a little better. I don’t know whether lockdown directly had anything to do with it – certainly I know at least one of the things that’s now happening wouldn’t have happened if not for someone being bored due to not being able to see friends – but whatever the case, this has been a really fantastic few months for me in a lot of ways, and I really appreciate everyone who made it happen.

I can’t single out every person, unfortunately, but suffice to say that simply reaching out to people I barely knew – just having these little conversations on whims, and being more willing to put myself out there as me, for people to accept if they wanted – has led to collaborations I couldn’t have imagined.

I’m part of Skullgate Media now: I’m a contributor to its first anthology volume, editor on more, and general helper-outerer in a whole bunch of cool ways in the behind-the-scenes of this new independent publisher. A few of the people I’ve met through that are some of the best people I know, and I hope I’ll be friends with them for a long time whatever Skullgate ends up doing next.

I’m getting to join forces with people who have talents in other fields like music and art to make something together that none of us could have made on our own, and I’m really excited for the day in the not-too-distant future when I get to properly announce everything about that.

I’ve had the chance to just chat with other creative people about all sorts of things, and to just decide to make a few stories together because why not? I’ve been able to help people, and to ask people for help, with little projects that mean a lot and are very awesome.

I might have actually got into the habit of saying yes to too many things, as opposed to what I was doing before (which is to say nothing whatsoever), but they’re all such awesome things that I just feel like I’m having a great time. I owe that feeling to a good dozen or so people I’ve either met or interacted more with in the last five or six months, and I hope they know I appreciate them.

So if there’s a point here, it’s that just being genuinely interested and talking to people as yourself can lead to awesome stuff you’d never have predicted – and that if that does happen, taking a moment to appreciate it is probably a good thing to do.

If you’ve had any awesome projects going on through lockdown, I’d love to hear about them. And I’m sure any collaborators of yours would love to know that you appreciate them, too.

Stay safe, and here’s to continuing to appreciate cool things whatever’s going on in the world. Also worth saying, I think: if you haven’t been able to do stuff throughout this whole thing, that is totally fine. If you’ve not had the energy to be creative as well as just surviving the state of the planet right now, you should absolutely not feel bad about that in any way. Although I’m happy that I’ve been creatively productive, I have to remind myself sometimes that my worth as a human being is not tied to how many words I produce, or whatever, and neither is yours. If you do have the chance to do something cool, then brilliant, and I hope you’re very proud of it. If not, it makes you no less important.

And on that note, uh, buh-bye, I guess. Take care!

Published by Chris Durston

Writer of stuff. Y'know. Words and that.

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