Writing in the pandemic
Updated: Feb 4
I write this post as snow is slowly coming down and piling up over other snow. I can see it, my desk faces the window. It’s hard to miss.
We shouldn’t be up North. We should have been in the Sunshine State since last November, but the world has changed. And we long to take three days to drive down, carry at least fifty bags up, restart the AC, reactivate the Internet and then head to Publix to stuff our refrigerator. Once the essentials are done, jump into bathing suits, cross the street and step onto the Pompano Beach.
But it’s not to be for now. We can live with it. Another day will come.
It’s worst for our grandkids who have to try to understand what is happening and live with its consequences. Little or no sports. Little or no in-person studies. Remote teaching? What is that? One week it’s open, the next it’s closed. We have to cheer them along every time we see them, but we can’t see them.
OK, we can’t be with them, so let’s communicate then. Can they zoom? FaceTime? Teams? It’s difficult, so let’s just send them a message. Do they do email? No? So one is on Messenger, one on iMessage? Two on Instagram, no one on WhatsApp, and the rest I don’t know. So we’ll call their home, and talk to them. What do you mean they don’t have a home phone! Too expensive and every kid has a phone anyway.
I must have missed the day they shared their phone number, because I certainly can’t reach them. At least I tried.
Staying home sure has provided writers with a great amount of time to pursue their craft. Not that it made a huge change. After all, a writer will work from his home, his garage, or for the elite among us, a full-size space independent of their home. But it comes with the necessity to get dressed before going out and entering the writer’s office. Those without this luxury can still write in the pajamas.
So for fiction writers, staying home is not a major drawback. I would sometimes grab my laptop and sit at Starbucks for a few hours. But the part I miss is the field research. Visiting cities, sites, and places to eat in South Florida is both fun and entertaining. And my wife loved the field trips. Well, most of them. She got worried when I walked into a shady motel in Marathon where Jason Tanner, my main character (or MC), was observing a drug ring in operation. Let’s just say she was happy when we left.
Non-fiction writers, on the other hand, have more hurdles. Not everything is found on the Internet. Research is often done in libraries or research centers. They must interview people and visit places. With the number of closed places, it has meant projects get delayed.
Those fiction authors with stories happening in 2020 or 2021, face new and uncertain obstacles. The world changed ... a bit. With new masks, social distancing, some businesses closed or only partially opened, the typical novel where two friends meet for lunch is very different. Some prose we will not read in the near future:
“They entered the crowded restaurant where only a small corner table waited for them.”
“The smokey air inside the rustic bar floated above the patrons standing three deep.”
“They danced the night away in a crowded downtown discotheque.”
Prior to the pandemic, when people met, they shook hands, now they fist bump. Before, they hugged, now they elbow bump or simply salute with a nod of the head. Two friends walking along is now replaced by two friends shouting from six feet away. A quiet evening at the movies with popcorn is now a TV series with takeout.
But help is on the way with multiple vaccines making their way into people’s arm. It’s a good thing, we certainly need it.
Other sites offering ideas about coping with the pandemic.