WRITING IN THE TIME OF COVID
Updated: Apr 27
Stranger times I have never witnessed. A plague of biblical proportions ravaging the world. People everywhere dropping like flies. Medical workers without protection. An entire country (almost) in quarantine. Our so-called-president, a spoiled, selfish, orange demon child, making it so much worse. It is my wish that somehow, in these terrifying times, you all manage to find comfort, safety, and sanity. I have found much of what I need in writing.
After publishing my first book, Blotto, I was strongly encouraged by my mentor to write another book, and to start it soon. I simply could not find something to write about. The choice of what to write is a serious consideration. It must be compelling enough to live with, every day, often for years. Then the pandemic hit, and I started spending an enormous amount of time with my darling dog, Baby, at which point the idea for a new book came to me, and soon consumed me. I would write a story about a man and his dog. A love story.
Now, a few weeks into the writing of Hounded, I am once again experiencing the thrill of creating something out of nothing. And in these times, there’s an even deeper benefit. Relief. The act of writing requires the most intense concentration I can muster. Fears and anxieties about the state of our world or the future are put on hold temporarily. I stay in the day. I make sure that writing is play rather than work. My focus is tunnel-visioned on the story in front of me, the characters being birthed, the endless details of the little world I’m creating. Most important, when I’m writing, I am not thinking of myself. I cease to be. For a few hours every day, I’m able to forget myself, to enjoy, in the words of AA founder Bill Wilson, “Freedom from the bondage of self.”
Challenges do exist. As long as I’ve been a writer, I’ve been terrorized by the vicious critic inside my head, whose voice spits at me, “You no talent loser. You’re hopeless. You’re a joke, an embarrassment.” To combat this monster in my mind, I’ve learned to regard myself as my own six-year old son, who I would never speak to in that manner. I consciously practice kindness and patience with the writer. As I lighten up on myself, I lighten up on everyone around me. My wife and quarantine partner might even say that I am easier to be around when I’m writing. Or she might not.
At the end of the day (and God knows these days can be long), may you find, in whatever you do, connection, relief, peace of mind, and an endless supply of toilet paper.
Write to me and tell me what you’re doing to get by.