Highs and Lows
The copious amount of time that a quarantine offers to the artist is both a boon and a burden.
The boon is self-evident on platforms like Instagram: many artistically-minded people are simply producing more content.
The burden is a corollary of the boon: even more content than before means even more pressure to contribute to it.
This isn't about the big names who were already in home office producing art as a business before corona. This is about the people you might actually know by name with whom you feel safe venturing a comparison. The people you can actually relate to. The people whose increased output makes you think, if they can, why can't I?
I speak for myself, but I suspect this goes for many others: I feel like I am woefully underperforming.
What about my plague project that I keep going on about? Where's the progress there? Very little! It doesn't matter that I started an etsy shop; it doesn't matter that I am catching up on projects I had set aside; it doesn't matter that I am actually getting some things done.
It's simply never enough. All day at home means all day could be productive. The curse of the home office, as many before me have stated, is that the divide between work and private life disappears. I might sit at my desk (writing) for two hours, then spend 30 minutes on Instagram, then another hour and a half at the desk (art), then an hour cooking and eating, then more desk (job applications), then emails, then cooking and eating again, then desk (art), then insta, then desk (blog), then social media wormhole. From 9am until 11pm. For the past sixteen days with only the occasional PO Box check or Edeka run. Constant fluctuation between work and not work without the commute to demarcate the difference between these two realms.
Fair enough, I've actually been in (an academic's) home office since before March 15, 2020, but this is the first time that I feel really pinned down. No escape to cafes or libraries or colloquium. Just me and my not realized goals. I go from complete despair regarding my art and the wish to just stop even trying, to feeling hesitant satisfaction that keeps urging me on.
It's the highs and lows of quarantine. I'm actually getting things accomplished, but it never feels like enough. And I know I'm not the only one experiencing this.
So before I go off a month or two from now with rose-colored memories of it all, the emotional toll of quarantine is real and I'm writing it down so that I don't overlook it later.