Lost in Lockdown

This isn’t how I imagined living through a pandemic would be. I know we’ve been lucky, and so many people have been through hell. For us, it’s been very civilised. Not a single outbreak movie has featured afternoon teas delivered by staff from the local (closed) pub, or deliveries of ice cream and beer, selected because they’ve added a postcode to their catchment area. Weeks of sitting in the sun in the garden, enjoying the silence (no planes, no cars…), reading Peter May. Discovering new places to walk every afternoon. Not working.

I don’t regret the decision I made in December and even knowing what I know now, I’d probably still have made the same one. But jobs in my area are thin on the ground right now. Time to write.

The new novella is progressing towards the planned October release date. The cover is done, thanks to Shutterstock and my husband’s surprisingly artistic eye when it comes to book cover construction. The first edit is complete and the first half of the narrative has been completely restructured! I just hope it still makes sense. Given that I’ve had four months of doing nothing, it’s still all happened very slowly. I don’t think it’s a surprise that with all the time in the world, not everything gets done. Waking every morning with no plans for the next fourteen hours doesn’t mean all those things I so often wish I had time to do get done.

Having said that, I have done a re-edit of the first chapter of ‘Angel House’, that book I’ve been writing for over twenty years which never moves closer to being finished. I’ve done other stuff too; I took an online, free Yale course, ‘The Science of Happiness’, which was fantastic and led me to start meditation. That’s led me to worry less and enjoy this strange time more. I’ve dipped a toe into community volunteering, albeit just delivering donations to some wonderful people who are doing the real work and making the longterm commitments. I’ve actually been happy during lockdown, slept better than I have in years. Even with the restrictions easing and the real world creeping back in, I’m more content and less stressed than I’ve felt in a long, long time.

One unforeseen consequence of something so incredibly out of left field occurring like a full country lockdown is that any television, movie or book set in 2020 and written before it happened is instantly wrong. No outbreak or zombie apocalypse story involves communities banding together to deliver shopping to the elderly or making meals for those with underlying health conditions. I tried to rewrite the last chapter of the new book, which was set in 2020, to incorporate what is happening. In the end, I shifted the whole narrative back a year so I didn’t have to deal with it. Difficult to predict where we’ll be next week in this ever-shifting situation, never mind next month. I know, I cheated and took the easy way out. It won’t be as easy going forward. At least we can’t say we’re stuck in a rut now.

The secret of a happy life isn’t to live through a global pandemic, but maybe it is to know you can survive one.