I suddenly seem to have a lot of hours to spare, so now seems as good a time as any to update my blog.
But what to write?
We are stuck in a strange limbo. There is an almost palpable feeling of dread in the air, a collective sense of nervous anxiety. None of us are sleeping. We tell ourselves not to watch every news bulletin, while unable to look away. The pandemic is unfolding relentlessly before our eyes and even those of us who have remained relatively untouched (so far) know that, right now, people are saying goodbye to loved ones via Facetime and NHS staff are fighting the sort of battle we have nightmares about.
I have been shopping once a week at my local Co-op, which is doing an excellent job. Today I took delivery of a small Asda order, primarily of staples I can’t get locally. I did have a bit of a giggle upon receiving a single banana! It made me think of that wartime ditty my dad used to sing, “Yes, we have no bananas!” There is something quite comforting about remembering the wartime generation and all that they faced. For anyone my age or younger, this is the first time we have experienced the sort of fear that comes from a universal threat. I hope it will be character building and allow us to address the cracks in our society. I hope everyone I know will get through this unscathed.
For writers, artists and many people working in the creative sector, the rug has truly been pulled. Income streams have vanished overnight and all our much-valued face-to-face events have gone. Add to this, our concerns over the health of loved ones (and ourselves) and it’s clear that we’re in for a bumpy emotional ride in the weeks ahead. Even those of us who are generally happy in our own company are finding this difficult. Fellow writer, Gillian Duff, has an interesting take on this. She suspects that, deep down, we have a primitive fear of being ‘separated from the herd’. This makes perfect sense, and rather ironically many of us have discovered that the lockdown has brought increased and unexpected connectivity with friends and family.
So now that we have all the time in the world, it should be easy to finish that work-in-progress, right? One of my favourite Tweets of recent days, was from a writer pointing out that anyone who suggests ‘writing a novel’ as a way of passing some time has ‘clearly never written a novel.’ The reality is indeed different. Any writer I have spoken to is finding it extremely hard to settle their minds long enough to create anything. My own day is a prime example. If words were KitKats, I’d definitely have a book in me…
4am Wake. Listen to radio and fret that it’s only the wee small hours. Turn off radio. Get up and make tea. Wash last night’s dishes while waiting for kettle to boil. Go back to bed, now fully awake. Read book but decide the time would be better employed writing. I could fit in 3 hours of writing before breakfast!
6am Open laptop. The view from the window becomes so interesting. The sunrise is lovely! If I go for my regulation walk now, the place will be deserted, and I won’t get the social distancing anxiety. Around here, the anxiety comes from people being too rule-conscious. On our rather narrow beach path, a Strictly Come Dancing scenario plays out daily as walkers and joggers take avoidance measures. Go for walk.
7am Still time to write before breakfast, but I’m hungry. I really want my breakfast
8am. Three-course, industrial-strength breakfast consumed. Lockdown lolling around takes energy.
9am Examine Word doc. Write a sentence. Check clock. Feel like I’ve been up for hours but it’s only 9am- not even coffee time. Get up and make another cup of tea.
9.30 Switch on TV ‘for company’. A panel of experts is discussing Corvid facts and I become engrossed. We are becoming a nation of armchair coronavirus experts and scientists have never been so cool.
11am. Coffee time. Plus biscuits, eaten while still watching TV.
12 am It’s noon! How did that happen? Look at Word doc and write a further three guilt-sentences while listening to The Jeremy Vine show. Get caught up in a debate about ‘corvidiots’ sunbathing while people are dying. So incensed I cannot think straight, and anyway, it’s time for lunch.
1pm Lunch, eaten in front of the One O’Clock news. No wonder I have indigestion.
2pm Decide I’d better do a bit of pottering outside while the sun’s out. I need my Vit D and I have potatoes to plant. Pity I can’t grow bananas. I do have a nice line in raspberry canes though.
3pm Coffee time, which is now coffee-and-something-fattening time
4pm The muse has fled. Close laptop. There’s always tomorrow and it must be nearly time for today’s press conference…
Two of the many silly little things I’m missing. Writing on a train going somewhere interesting and meeting friends for coffee. What about you?
2 thoughts on “Thoughts of a Writer in Lockdown”
I keep imagining what lockdown must have looked like or felt like before the days of the internet – not long ago – or television or the telephone. You had to go into a sort of semi-conscious state to get through, waiting for the mail that might never come. Those people who think they are somehow safe and don’t need to abide by the rules should be taken to an ICU ward to see the truth they are avoiding. Only 15% of patients will come out and recover. 15% will die. The rest, 70%, will languish in hospital for many weeks and months before they are fit enough to leave. They may die in the meantime.
I really like the observation of the person – maybe a novelidiot – who suggested lockdown time on your hands would be enough to write a novel. That person has obviously never experienced having their brain put through a mangle then whizzed round in a spin dryer. All while waiting on the OK from a publisher who may just as easily say NOT OK.
Looking forward to your next chapter, Sandra xx
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Thanks for your comment, Sue. Wise words. This is to be taken very seriously indeed. I have managed to do a bit of writing today, but everything feels like a struggle. Hope you are all well as can be expected xx