On New Years Day I messaged a friend that I hoped 2021 was going to be calmer than 2020. Hah! It was, until a bunch of extremists stormed the US Capitol building and 5 people died as a result. Since my last post months ago there have been so many ups and downs, and the pandemic has changed my life substantially. I suspect I got covid early on in March, which was huge fun except the breathing problems and wondering how bad it had to get before I called an ambulance, fortunately it never got there!
Working from home, helping to home school my children, and huge changes in the system of life meant I didn’t write for awhile. I don’t know what people are doing with the palates of canned tomatoes, toilet paper and flour they bought. Maybe they built emergency covid-protection bunkers to hide in, anyway I hope it came in useful because they certainly prevented me from finding them for awhile. Let me give you a hint, if you suspect there’s going to be widespread interruptions in the food supply and utilities like power and gas don’t buy something you need to cook!
One surprising thing about the pandemic was that I found my commute to be a critical part of my creative process, and without it my writing ground to a halt! I’ve been a NYC subway and now a London Underground user for most of my life, and I’ve long since developed the ability to zone out and pretend I’m not part of a human sardine performance art exhibition. It used to be I’d read, but when I started writing I’d spend the time to and from the office thinking about what comes next.
My method was to write an outline, then the scenes, decide the rudiments of what was going to happen, then I’d spend my commute working out the details. What had I just written, what issues it may have introduced, and who was going to do what next and how. I’d look at keeping tension and making sure I was fulfilling the wider story goals. It meant that when I sat down to write I’d know what to put down, and I’d make progress.
Losing my commute meant that all went, I’d sit down after a long day of mixed work and home schooling and have to work things out, which was slow and frustrating. I had to make changes, carve out time to think about the story. I’ve been finding ways to make it work, and things are starting to flow again, which is when I really enjoy it. Please 2021, please please please just chill!