Over the past month or so, the world has changed. But in the midst of it all, humans are trying desperately to maintain a sense of normalcy.
The prevailing opinion among the writing community right now is that creating during this time is hard. Those who are working on contemporary stories can now no longer imagine continuing with them as the world looks different in reality. How should a pandemic affect the world of our stories? How should it affect the way we work as writers? These are extremely complicated questions that we might never have the answers to. One thing we do know for sure is that the public, as a whole, is turning to creators in the midst of this madness. The first thing it seems people have done in their isolation is turn on Netflix, pick up a book, or settle in with their favorite music. Art is the best form of escapism for so many of us, which means that we, as creators, cannot stop creating, even though life is uncertain and writing may be scary.
Writing hasn’t been hard for me during my quarantine. In fact, the writing is the only thing that has kept me anchored to the reality I knew before this one. I have complete respect for people who have chosen to take their furloughs from work as a time for finding peace outside of their normal routine and spending time focusing on themselves and their families with no to-do lists. I think that’s awesome. But for me, this quarantine has given me the chance to work uninterrupted. Before the quarantine started, I made a commitment to my agent to edit a novel that we’re hoping to sell. Three weeks ago, that seemed almost impossible. I was working three part-time jobs and trying to cram my full-time writing into the mix somewhere in the early mornings or late at night. I’m not really one for bright sides and silver linings (sorry), but not being able to jump away from my computer to go grocery shopping or out to lunch or to the bookstore, well, it’s given me a chance to focus on this story. It would be easy to sleep in every day and watch Netflix through the afternoon and eat my weight in Oreos (I might have done that anyway), and while I think those things are perfectly acceptable coping mechanism during all this, I know what that would do to my mental health. I know that I would sink and lose sight of myself. So instead, I set my alarm, even though no one needs me to. I sit down and work 9-4, even though nobody is watching my time clock. I’ve elbowed my way through this revision, even though my agent has offered to give me more time.
It’s true that I don’t know if this story, a contemporary YA romance, will make sense in the post-pandemic world, but for right now, it’s the only thing that does make sense, so I’ll keep working on it. Do what’s best for you, every step of the way, but don’t forget that your mental health and your future depends on you continuing to focus on things you love while you’re in isolation.