I have not posted anything on my blog since I started graduate school 20 months ago. With the rigors of academic writing and research, I found it hard to shift gears into fiction writing, so I have also not written any new fiction since September of 2018.
I am a changed person since I earned my master’s degree in organizational leadership in April of 2020. More significantly, the world has changed dramatically with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related public health orders that have restricted social contact.
This is a watershed event, like the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The big difference with the COVID-19 outbreak is that life will not return to normal any time soon. After 9-11, life as we knew it resumed quickly. I remember President George W. Bush at the time stressed the importance of restoring a sense of normalcy because the way the terrorists win is to disrupt our way of living. After a brief pause, life resumed its former pace. Sporting events and concerts returned, people began flying again, and the World Series was played weeks after the terrorist bombings.
As I write this, my hometown of West Hartford, CT, resembles a ghost town. Few cars are on the road. People walk the streets with face masks, careful to keep social distance. On a recent hot, sunny day, scores of people flocked to a local park, the entrances to which were blocked to prevent vehicles from entering. The people walking in the park respected social distancing. There were no large gatherings within the park, where normally people might sit on a blanket and gather within close proximity.
I have heard many writers say they write to make sense of the world. I have even said this myself. But, how do we make sense of a global pandemic that has upended our lives? How do we process this? How do we write about it? What conclusions should we draw?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. The best advice I can give to writers is to focus on what you can control. Establish a daily routine. This may include time set aside for writing, for daily tasks, remote work (if you are employed), for reading, and, importantly, for connecting with others. I have participated in more Zoom videconferencing calls than I can count. These have been a lifeline to me in maintaining social contact with friends, colleagues, and other writers.
We will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis at some point. I prefer to take the long view. I plan to follow public health guidance, maintain connections, practice self care (eat healthy and exercise), and I am even getting back to my work in progress. Let’s support one another and stay connected!
What about you? How are you coping with the global pandemic?