C-19 Lockdown hasn’t been a very productive time for me, writing wise. When self-isolating should have given me loads more time to write, for some reason I simply couldn’t get started on anything. I’m not alone in this. Talking to other people it seems that many of us spent too much time studying the C-19 statistics and watching the rolling news.
What could I have done?
I could have written two new novels in fifteen months, or at least two first drafts. I’m not a linguist, but surely I could have found an hour a day to learn a new language, or brush up on my schoolgirl French. When all my shopping had to be done online, I could have made sure that I eliminated biscuits and soft drinks from my weekly grocery delivery. I could have, but I didn’t. I could have taken half an hour a day to walk on the treadmill. Yeah, right!
What did I do?
There were other things besides the rolling news to suck up my time and energy. My day job is booking gigs for musicians. You might think, since no gigs were happening, that I would have had to mothball that, but no, I spent time rearranging gigs from spring 2020 to autumn 2020, then into 2021. Though there are a few gigs going ahead (socially distanced) in summer and autumn 2021, they are few and far between, so I’ve been rearranging yet again from 2021 to 2022. Since an agent doesn’t get paid until the performer does the gig and gets paid themselves, it’s been three times the work for none of the money… but it had to be done.
I knitted two jumpers while watching TV, mostly re-runs of QI on the Dave channel because I like intelligent comedy.
Also my mum, now 96 years old, developed short term memory loss and started to get very confused. It’s only a couple of years since she used to do my accounts, so she’s done well for a long time. I reckon if you get to 96 you’re allowed to get a little quirky. Luckily, though there’s not much to be done about the memory, the confusion lessened when we figured out that she wasn’t taking her meds regularly. So getting her back on her meds eventually reduced the confusion. So now we have to do meds and meals on a daily basis, and also persuade her to go to bed at a sensible time. Since she lives next door it’s not such a hardship, but it’s one more reason not to write.
Then, after a year of spinning my wheels, writing-wise, I managed to get started… not on a new project but on an old one. A few years ago I wrote a novel for children called Your Horse Sees Dead People. It features magic and horses. Initially I aimed it at the older end of middle grade, but all along it wanted to be YA, so early this year I made a start on up-aging it. My heroine became 17 rather than 15 and the boy-next-door became 19. Everything suddenly fell into place. I did a structural edit and without changing the basic plot, it grew up and came of age within a couple of weeks of concerted effort.
But I couldn’t get the right ending. I actually wrote two endings, couldn’t decide which I liked best, so used both of them. Yes, you’re right. It didn’t work, so I chopped out one of the endings and now I have 20,000 words saved for a possible second book which I’m calling A Head Full of Magic Stuff. I polished Your Horse Sees Dead People and sent it off to my agent, so now I’m waiting for his comments. I hope he likes it.