ON WRITING: during a pandemic
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
When the world of history you're visiting -- a desperate, economic depression and nation-wide drought -- mirrors the wild havoc of your world today.
I clicked open my manuscript to page one. Sometimes I do that. And the rampant desperation and hopelessness my character saw around her surprised me. Why? Because those same emotions and fears swept my world, today.
It's March 27, 2020. That's in the midst of the Covid pandemic. The world is freaking the F out. People are dying. Everyone is panicking. You remember, right?
Here's my first draft. Paragraph One. (Surely this will change. My last novel went through SEVENTEEN drafts before I was ready to send off to agents.)
"All those who told stories said today humanity, with their uncontrollable hunger, would devour the earth. That the desperation of man would wet the crumbling red rectangles of thirsty Oklahoma land with their blood...
And yet, around me, I didn’t observe this prophecy of disorder. I recognized possibilities in the chaos."
Like my character Minnie, I see chaos. Our world is breaking, remaking, just spiraling, whirligig outta control.
My heart aches for those sick, those working on the front lines, those without the money to stockpile food, those stuck at home with abusive family members. I empathize, deeply. I pray for them. But to be honest, truly honest, I love the feeling of the world slowing down. I feel like I can breathe a bit more.
I'm enjoying time with my children at home. Enjoying Social Distancing like it's my calling. Enjoying not having to put on pants. Well, let's be honest: none of my pants fit. I'm 35 weeks pregnant with our third child. I'm trying not to worry about the state of hospitals when I go into labor. Making lots of jokes about giving birth in a kiddie pool in the backyard.
That's not all.
Even more stressful, my eldest daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. So my family is not without our little pieces of chaos.
So what can I say? How can I encourage you today?
Is your life in chaos? I'm thinking yes, because: whose ever isn't? I encourage you to take a moment and remember those most desperate times of your life. Perhaps the Covid pandemic was wretched, rotten, awful for you. Think back on it. On how you had no toilet paper and your boyfriend had just left you and as much as you tried: you really had no earthly idea how to cook. You were alone.
But remember: you survived.
You got through it. You'll get through today.
And Minnie? my character? She goes through the wringer on her journey through the Wild Wild West. Will she be hurt, challenged, struck low? Absolutely. Will it be utter madness and lots of come-to-Jesus moments. Of course. But does she survive? Well, yeah. She'll grow stronger and rise above.
You can too. You will.
So solider on, sweetie. No matter the rough whirlwind of today: I know you've got this. I'm praying for you, so far away, always.