It was after midnight and I was snuggled under my quilt, plagued with insomnia and a pre-cold sore throat while my husband coughed and rolled. Phone in hand, I was waiting for my melatonin to kick in while I caught up on entries from Abbey of the Art’s “Give Me a Word 2019” e-course when burrow came to mind.
What a weird word, and hardly a word to guide a year, I thought, dismissing burrow while I launched Facebook and watched the videos of cat, dog, and baby antics I’d saved over the past few weeks.
Two days later I have not left the house, have not dressed other than exchanging one pair of pajamas, socks, and underwear for another. I’ve spent these two days ensconced in my recliner, blanket across my lap, lap desk atop that, MacBook atop that, scrolling through my writing folder, Kleenex in hand, gasping and sighing like a fish on land as I succumb to the virus my husband brought home from our Christmas vacation in Colorado.
In my self-imposed isolation and stillness, I’ve edited and submitted nine short stories and eight poems to seven literary journals…well over what I sent out in the rest of 2018 combined. I wrote most of the poems this year, but all the stories have been with me more than a decade. One even dates back to 2001. Over the years, I’ve submitted and revised the stories, but have yet to find the right literary journal for them.
This doesn’t mean my stories are boring, or poorly written, but it does mean I'm not finished with them. Each time I open the file, I re-read the piece closely and edit. Sometimes the changes are small, other times they’re more significant, as I try to find the most elegant words and powerful sentences to convey the heart of the story and personalities of my characters. Delving deeply into writing, one could say I burrow.
And when I think of it as something more than digging a hole in which to hide, burrow doesn’t seem quite so strange a word to guide the coming year.
In retreating to my recliner with my computer, I’m burrowing by creating a space that accepts and even empowers my circumstances. Right now, I don’t have the energy to take our empty glass bottles to the recycling center, vacuum my car, or cook a week’s worth of dinner—all items on my to-do list—but I do have the energy to write and edit, something I can often put off when I want to be "productive."
Right now, I’m ready to burrow under my blanket for an afternoon nap, but I look forward to burrowing in many other permutations in the coming year—delving deeply, making a thorough exploration and examination of the places I inhabit and the interests and activities that call to me.
This New Year's Eve I raise a sparkling glass of TheraFlu to 2019, and to all of you who read these words. May the new year bring a word to guide and guard your endeavors (borrow burrow if you so desire).
I began blogging about "This or Something Better" in 2011 when my husband and I were discerning what came next in our lives, which turned out to be relocating to Puget Sound from our Native California. My older posts can be found here.