It feels a bit bleak right now: here in the UK the weather is grey and cold and we are back in lockdown. The actual rules of lockdown don't affect me much. I work from home, don't like shopping and home-educate my daughter, so lockdown rules really are an extension of my normality. Except its not. The psychological lockdown is knowing that I can't go to the pub if I want to or visit a friend (if I want to). There is something quite miserable in the idea of not being able to do stuff (even when said stuff wasn't on your to-do list!) The endlessly bleak news coverage doesn't help either - although the US elections might form the basis of some wild dystopian fiction.
Last time we locked down, I lost almost all my tutoring work overnight. I thought: `ah, good. I can concentrate on writing.' I then watched hours and hours of daytime telly, for months and months. I hardly wrote. That suspension of reality just suspended me. Full stop.
This time round I am determined to make more of the situation. Its not quite the same - my tutoring made the switch to online and is back in business. But avoidance of that `what's-the-point' bleakness needs to be actively pursued.
I (and maybe you) need to write, write and write some more.
Find inspiration where you can. Whether its the bizarre events that are unfolding in the real world, the workings of your kitchen and your relationships - or Nature. That wonderful ever-changing constant outside of our small human blunders. It's hard sometimes to feel motivated, but there are rewards in the effort. My external motivation comes in the form of a funny-looking cross-breed terrier with a typically terrier nature. Any refusal to go on walks is met with toe-biting and constant harassment - so I am forced out, no matter how much I would rather not. And, truly, every walk is inspiring:
It has rained in the night
And I am loathe to leave
The warmth of inside
For the sodden soil of the fields…
The sun lattice-lights
And water burbles in the furrows.
A pheasant squeaky-gears,
Breaking from its cover
And the dog skitters mud
The squelch of my boots
Becomes a serenade
To the joy of the morning -
Honey-touched and new.
(from Fieldsong; Mandy Whyman: 2020)
Submit your work. This is often easier said than done, but really, the truth of the matter is that we write so that our words can be read. You don't have to be particularly brave to send stories into competitions (just watch those entrance fees!) You have to be slightly braver to submit a manuscript to a publisher (and patient; very, very, very, very, very patient.) And if you are vacillating between brave and downright terrified, have a go at self-publishing. It isn't hard, there are no upfront costs and you will have made your work concrete, even if only you ever order a copy.
Most importantly: write. Write a diary. Write single lines. Write a blog. Write a children's story. Write a poem. Write.
Because that's what writer's do.