Ennui: Not So Boring After All

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
I was talking to a friend the other evening and she was annoyed with herself: “I always thought if I had the time, I’d work on my calligraphy, clean out the garage…”

Welcome to the World of Pandemic Ennui, y’all.

I love that word “ennui.” It’s one of those words you don’t hear much anymore, but when I do think of it, I picture a woman reclining on a chaise longue (also a word out of fashion), a hand resting against her forehead, while the other arm falls to the side, fingertips grazing the floor. Or there’s Libs, when she’s not being a Tiny Terror:

The short definition for ennui is boredom, but it’s so much more than that:

noun; ennui
a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.

Doesn’t that just about sum up where many of us are at right now? And though the world is slowly starting to open again, it will be in phases, and so we have days of ennui ahead of us still. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lie around and entertain our thoughts. Like what matters to us as writers.

I’m thinking about skill sets; the ones I have and the ones I want.

Take online communication. Like blogs, for instance. You may have noticed an uptick in blog tours lately. Which makes sense when you can’t get out and travel to bookstores and libraries; you have to bring the book to where people are. Blogs have always been an important “distribution” tool for writers, but I suspect they’ll become even more integral in marketing/promotion. And there are other tools to consider…starting a newsletter or (re)building a website. What’s going to work, career-wise?

And of course, online communication includes social media, which has been a boon to creatives during this shut-down time. At last, we all have a day (or twenty) to take a look around at ALL that’s out there in the virtual world. Media beyond YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Maybe TikTok? We have a minute now to do some browsing among writers we like or writers like us. It’s a great opportunity for a little comparison shopping, if you will, to see what’s a good business fit.

Perhaps this is the moment you—and by you, I mean me—have been waiting for, the chance to get a long-postponed project done. Like making a powerpoint presentation. Of course you—and again, I mean me-- know how, but are you stuck in the basics when you could add so much more pizazz? Or create a book trailer! Or learn photoshop! There are classes that can teach you, me, all of us, EVERYTHING—and at a price for any budget.

Finally, whilst we’re stuck in our ennui, perhaps it will occur to us that there’s a good reason that we’ve never quite got round to what we thought we always wanted to do. Namely, that we don’t really want to do it.

Who wants to clean out a garage? And maybe we haven’t signed on with Instagram because we have our hands full with trying to cook any kind of meal much less one that’s picture-worthy?!

Ahem. The point is, we can be productive stretched out on a chaise longue in the drawing room (or in my and Libby's case, wherever). All it takes is a little thought to what we do want to do, how we want to spend the precious gift of time we’ll have.

One day, when the world opens wide its arms and welcomes us back.

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--I've had weeks of ennui. Yes, I'm teaching via Zoom and Google forms and email. Yes, I'm grading and "chatting" with students. But the rest of the time, I'm likely on the couch (no chaise lounge--sniff--my sister has one, and I LOVE it) and either reading or watching TV or knitting.

And according to my husband, since I've been "trapped" in my house for weeks and weeks, there are times I'm crabby or moody and I'm Sioux, the not-s0-tiny Terror (and my belly's not nearly as cute as Libs').

By the way, I love the photo of you and Libs. Very clever.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yes, exactly, Sioux! I'm busy with all kinds of stuff but when I'm NOT doing the work stuff, I'm a slug. Binge-watching old episodes of Parks and Rec. Eating popcorn and M & Ms. Staring at my phone, laughing at videos. Eating M & Ms without the popcorn because there is NO MORE POPCORN.


And P.S. Sioux, that pic of me and Libs is from last summer. I don't remember why I took it but if I'm being honest, I could take that same pic pretty much any day. :-)

Margo Dill said...

I keep saying when this is over, I'll... THen the other day, I thought: Margo, this is your life, too. This period here, so do the best you can but try to enjoy something everyday. Today, we enjoyed an episode of Nailed It and pizza from a takeout place because it's rainy and I've had to wipe down a muddy dog about a million times. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yay! Good on you, Margo!

And now I want pizza, too.

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