It’s been a difficult year for everybody dealing with the COVID crisis and trying to maneuver through all the various roadblocks facing us, some of which include health concerns, financial worries and social isolation. It’s been difficult for writers, as well. Telling stories is hard when you’re concerned about the health of yourself and your loved ones.
As a working writer, the pandemic hurt me in a lot of ways. And yet in others ways it also helped me, too. I had a novel come out last April with readings and appearances set all around New England. Then the pandemic hit and all my readings and signings got canceled. All the bookstores and libraries closed and the hardcover sales of my book suffered because of it. My previous novel got nominated for the Maine Literary Award, but because of the pandemic the ceremony had to be held on Zoom. It was a bummer that myself and fellow other writers couldn’t meet up once a year. Making matters worse, my writers group had to do Zoom meetings instead of meeting at the pub.
But on the plus side, there was nothing else to do but write. Bars and restaurants had closed down. The only place I could visit was the supermarket, and that added to my COVID weight gain, which I’ve since shed. I wrote a lot. In the process, I began the arduous path of reinventing myself—yet again. I’ve gone through many iterations as a writer and am now morphing again thanks to the COVID. It made me reevaluate everything and decide on where to go next.
As a writer, I wonder how much the COVID will appear as a background in the novels written by other authors. Will setting a novel in the time of the Pandemic date a work or enhance it? I’ve been hesitant to use it in my writing, fearing it might take away from my plot. But others might feel differently. Others might feel that the COVID crises could play a crucial role in their story and help in the development of their characters. And I can see how that might happen. Think of all the misdeeds characters could pull off while wearing a mask. It could also add depth and relevant social commentary.
I haven’t used the Pandemic yet in my stories, but that’s not to say I won’t in the future. It seems to me more fitting for an apocalyptic tale than a crime novel, but that could all change the more I look back and think about this period in my life. I’m interested to see how others integrate this chapter of history into their works.
In the meantime, as everyone gets vaccinated and society starts to slowly return to normal, I’m at my desk busy reinventing myself yet again. Changing, growing and trying to be a better writer. Trying to keep the weight off, go to the gym, eat better and keep myself healthy. I’m also constantly thinking about how my stories will play out and how my future characters will develop in new and unique ways. I hope everyone out there stays healthy so we can all get together one day and celebrate life—and living.
Be good, everyone.