Escape to Writing

I’ve always used writing as a way to work through things that are bothering me–hypocrisy, rude people, the current state of the world, etc. With the onset of COVID-19, I’ve found writing has offered me another gift–escapism. No matter how claustrophobic or stir crazy I’ve become inside my house, I can sit down at my laptop and disappear into a COVID-free world for a few hours. Through my characters, I can attend summer camp, go to a concert, or cheer along with a raucous crowd at a sporting event. I’m not sure how my fellow writers of contemporary fiction are dealing with the pandemic in their stories, but my books do not mention it. My stories are set in the current day, but without COVID. I like it that way. For my mental health, I need it that way.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

One of my upcoming releases, She Lies Alone, is set in a large high school. I wrote the bulk of the book in 2019. As I’ve been going back and addressing revisions and copy edits, it is strange to read my descriptions of a COVID-free world where teens travel in packs and gather to eat lunch in a crowded cafeteria without a second thought. These revisions come exactly at the time I’m learning my kids will be attending their school 100% virtually in the fall. Reading my manuscript describing a pandemic-free world that is both near and distant is strange, but also refreshing. Oh, how naive I was! But how happy and carefree! It is wonderful to travel to that safe place, if only for a while. (Okay, maybe “safe” isn’t the correct word because I write mysteries and there is bound to be a murder, but you know what I mean.)

I’m finishing up a first draft of another novel involving a girls’ weekend gone murderously wrong. I’ve written the all 70,000+ words during the pandemic, but the pandemic doesn’t exist in my book. I’m not sure I could write about the pandemic while living through it. That would ruin the escape that writing brings to me.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you write contemporary fiction? Do you mention the pandemic in your stories? Tell me why or why not.

Until next time…

Writing in the Time of COVID-19

Change of Planspills on gray background

A week ago right now, I’d finished a full day of revisions on one of manuscripts and was attending my son’s first school volleyball game. Two days later, school had been canceled for the next three weeks, possibly longer, the aisles of my local grocery store had been cleared out in a rush of panic buying, and my kids were fighting over my computer. What a difference a week can make.

I realize I’m not the only one whose life has been set into a tailspin. This virus is affecting everyone, nobody more so than the people who are infected. Of course, my family and I are doing our part to “flatten the curve.” We’re staying inside, except to take long walks or play sports in the backyard. We’ve stopped getting together with friends. We’re working and schooling from home. Sadly, my husband and I had to our cancel our trip to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in New York City in May. That will have to wait.

The first two days with all four of us home felt long at times. I found it difficult to focus with a steady stream of interruptions and loud noises emanating from around the house. (I’m one of those people who can only write in complete silence.) But we’re slowly getting into a new routine. I’m claiming the morning hours as my writing time. My husband has set up his home office downstairs in the living room. My kids use their tablets to check emails from their teachers and use my computer in the afternoon.

Silver Linings

I have to admit, there have been a few silver linings to the quarantine. It’s nice to eat

landscape photo of pathway between green leaf trees

lunch with my family every day. I usually eat alone during the week, in between revising or writing chapters. My tri-weekly trips to the gym have been replaced with long, hikes in nature or around our neighborhood with my husband, kids, and dog. Thankfully, the weather has been sunny and spring-like. Another bonus–and I’ve heard other writers mention this too–the pages read of my YA mystery series on Kindle Unlimited are WAY up. I agree there’s no better way to pass the time than reading a book! Finally, is it just me, or are people being nicer to each other? I’ve noticed this at the grocery store and while out on walks and also online. People are smiling, saying hi, asking how I’m doing, and simply checking in. The sense of community has never felt stronger.

I hope everyone who reads this is staying safe and healthy. By all accounts, the worst may still be ahead of us, but we are all in this together. We will get through it, and I’ll be back to my silent days of writing in no time. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the gift of time with my family.

How are these difficult times affecting your writing or reading?