I’m hoping that by the time you read this you’ve scheduled or received your COVID-19 vaccination and we can finally start to put the Plague Year behind us. And what a year it was.
Voluntary quarantine isolation and a Presidential election cycle including a threat of insurrection would normally be enough of a distraction and life challenge, but in my case 2020 included corporate retirement after a 40-year financial services career, the indie publication of “Love Power,” my debut NOLA mystery series novel, and having my short story “The Honor Thief” chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon anthology.
How on earth do I process this?
The answer is the same as it was a year ago. Take it day-by-day. Keep your knees bent. Remember to breathe.
I have been keeping an eye on my output this past year to make sure I got the writing done. Blogging and editing seemed easy enough. Taking a deep dive into the creative well to come with more words, fresh and interesting characters and new story material ideas was not.
I did try. I broke out my storyboard and my index cards and I used NaNoWriMo to outline NOLA Mystery book two. The plot points are still sitting in neat stacks on my worktable gathering dust, and since this is Florida the sun has started to fade their black ink to a ghostly blue. Cracking the whip, I kept reminding myself that Shakespeare wrote “King Lear,” “Macbeth,” and “Antony and Cleopatra” in 1605-1606 while the bubonic plague ravaged London. Get to work, slacker!
That was the wrong approach. I forgot about being kind to myself. COVID-19 is a completely new experience. I needed time to get through it, to get to the other side, to stand on firm ground once again and then look back and think about things, because that’s what writers do. We process our life experiences into emotions and then develop that into stories we can share with our readers. When the emotions are true, when they’re real and genuine and powerful, that’s when we connect as humans. In life and in our stories, emotions are key.
I got my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine on March 16th with the second vaccination scheduled for April 9th. Right now, I feel like I’m standing on the threshold of the next thing, on the edge of the high diving board, looking out and down, my stomach filled with fluttering butterflies. What is next? What will I create or develop? I’m breathless with fresh possibilities.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful to be on the other side of COVID-19. I’ll never forget those who are not. I hope we’ve learned something from this but was it so different from the pandemics of 1606 or 1918? As an author, will I ever use COVID-19 in a story? I don’t know the answer to that yet. Will you?