I haven’t written in a while. I couldn’t. The world went in changed in a hurry. Things that we took for granted as immutable changed overnight. Did you thought people had to leave home to go to work everyday? Surprise. Everyone was told to stay home. Did you think that the U.S. government was tightfisted when it came to domestic spending for anything that wasn’t a corporation? Overnight, they found a way to accommodate universal basic income. Was universal health care off the table? All of a sudden, there were promises even from Republicans that people who have health care for free.
But there was a price. A nightmarish price to be paid. Things that we had warned were real, but that we had only ever seen on theater screens presented as disaster movies, or on television screens on nightly news as tragedies unfolding far away, suddenly they were coming real and coming home. I saw them headed for us weeks before anyone around me took them seriously, but there was nothing to be done about it.
For the better part of a month, my thoughts wouldn’t stay focused. Nothing else seemed to matter except here, now and the near future. Researching and writing about the past seemed a ridiculous waste of time. In fact, it seemed just like yesterday I wrote about Dr. Schnabel and the waves of plague that washed through Europe. That had been my great idea for an upcoming Halloween costume. Now, that sounds like an awful and untimely joke.
Just now, in the past few days, personal writing of any sort has seemed possible at all. I’m still not up to working on my manuscript yet. Working on my beloved land of make believe still seems helplessly frivolous in this environment, but I trust that someday, hopefully soon, I’ll get that back. But I want to write, and that’s something. It’s a small sign of normalcy returning, and I’ll take it.
I read one historian urge people to write down their impressions of this remarkable time that we’re going through, so for now, I’m going to repurpose this blog. I’m not able to do my research and rewriting and editing anyhow, so I’ll keep up on how life has changed and how, I hope, we’ll get back to some sort of workable normal. And sometime soon, I hope to get back to what I was working on. Because if nothing else, if this damned disease does come calling for me, I’d really hate to leave without finishing this project.
I’m not the only writer stuck in this place for now. My friend and fellow historical fiction writer, Allison Thurman, is in the same sort of limbo. She writes about her early impressions of the COVID-19 crisis here, and you can read her most recent entry by going here.