“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
It’s been a while since my last post and the world has changed in so many ways – a pandemic, and now a growing movement to address racial injustices and police brutality. I fully support the latter, while remaining anxious about the former. A second wave is likely coming as we reopen businesses and let our guard down – even if the protests (which are necessary) weren’t underway. These are uncertain, eventful times. It’s a time of reckoning and reflection. This pandemic has laid all our failings bare – our economic inequalities, our racism, our disregard for the environment, our treatment of animals and our relationships with each other.
This pandemic has made me examine my own priorities, and I hope it has for others as well. I’m luckier than most – I have a secure government job that allows me to work from home. I have my health and freedom. I’m keeping a low profile and practicing social distancing. I’ve had my stresses as well – a family member got sick with Covid and took eight weeks to recover. I have family on the other side of the world and it feels powerless to be so far away from them. But we can talk and remain connected through technology, and I know this will end. I’ll see my family and friends again.
On the writing front, this pandemic has made me very productive. With fewer distractions and competing priorities, I’ve had plenty of time after work to focus on my latest novel and keep the wheels turning. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media from other writers who are too stressed and overwhelmed to be productive writers – and while I can empathize, I told myself at the start of the lockdown that I wasn’t going to be consumed by outside forces beyond my control. I can’t control the terrible stories in the news, but I can do my part to socially distance – and to channel my energy into writing. If anything, this pandemic has become fuel for new ideas. I can escape into other, better worlds and use stories to grapple with the issues affecting us now.
An update from the last few months:
These are difficult times, but it’s important to hold on to your purpose, to lean onto the things that anchor you. For me, writing is my anchor. It gives me joy and helps me make sense of the world – and imagine other ways the world could be. Whatever else is going on, I plan to keep writing.