Bubble Life bites, and hard...
Oh how lockdown has become an out of balance affair of teaching and working. Working for myself, I’m able to make that sacrifice and wear it, but for those employed by others, I feel for you! My kids have run out of enthusiasm for their daily Zoom classes, and getting my eldest to do any work without making it a drawn-out melodrama grows in challenge!
What tipped the scales mid-month, taking my extended family into unexpected and difficult territory, was my 95-year-old grandmother’s fall and subsequent hospitalisation. We hadn’t been able to visit her in her retirement home due to Covid restrictions, so none of us had seen her for a very long time. She had surgery, a touch-and-go thing due to her age and frailty, but post femur-fixing, they discovered broken ribs. My tiny, stubborn, straight-talking wee granny lasted three long weeks to be able to see her children. Nobody could have imagined after years of declining health, just how tough she could be. It was a difficult thing, not being there with her. Only once New Zealand dropped to Level Three Lockdown could her children, my father and his sister along with my mum, could visit and were shocked at the changes in her. Lucid to the end, we shared a messenger chat with her and she asked after everyone. Though short, just to be able to see her, hear her, and tell her we loved her was so important, and utterly heart breaking in that we knew it’d be the last. I really feel for those families who’ve been separated whilst loved ones slip away, and to be denied that chance is just awful. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it’d have been for us without at least someone of ours there at the end, especially when we’re usually all there. Our team approach has been foiled by Covid, an illness beyond our imagining. It’s touched us all, whether directly or indirectly, and it has changed life in ways we never could have predicted. It’s time to get our adaptability hats on and crush the curve!
Right, beyond the sad and difficult stuff, Level Three Lockdown has brought fun and a lightening of the mood too. My husband is back at work, and we’ve expanding our bubble to include my sister’s kids (the two I look after when she’s teaching). This has provided a bit of relief. Boy have those cuties grown, and boy did I forget how much energy it takes to keep up with them! Miss Coming Up Two, and Mr Nearly Five and my two were thrilled to see each other again, and exhausted afterward! We marched around the paddocks, played in the little house my husband built for them, kicked balls, played ‘golf’ (aka, don’t get hit with the golf club!), climbed, slid, rolled, and enjoyed the sun. We’ve also caught up for a farm walk, pushing the boundaries of our bubble out to the edges of the farm for some family time and a dose of fresh air.
Regular life, whilst far off in the vaccinated future, puzzles me a bit. Whilst I look forward to the level-two drop (predicted for mid-May), I also don’t mind the routine we’ve slipped into, and the distancing suits me fine (introvert alert much?), and it’s relaxed with little pressure. It does itch a bit from time to time, having to stay away from family during celebrations, not having takeaways (not so much for the food, but for not having to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day!), and those little interactions outside of home are missed. I struggle with being told ‘you can’t.’ I might not have wanted to in the first place, but as soon as someone forbids me to do something, I want to do it, don’t I? But then, what might the consequences be, and do I want to be responsible for them? Hell no!
Bite me, writing bug
I’m back on the writing front! I’m back! I’ve been up and down, but the push to get ‘The Invitation,’ done and out in record time kick started the process again. I’m reminded of the need to keep on keeping on, even a little each day, on big projects. They slip easily into another place if I leave a gap, and I come back to find I don’t recognise where I was at. Little bits at least keep the story fresh in my mind. ‘The Weight of Expectation,’ is a hard write for me though. I’m using a lot of personal experience in this one, exploring things from the outside and in retrospect. Whilst not a true story at all, I’ve used the feelings and dredging through them is hard work. I want the story done, but it’s draining, and hard, and it puts my mood off every time I get stuck in. I’d hoped to have it published by the end of last year, but the act of sitting down and putting my ‘past’ hat on is so difficult! I’m pushing on, though, and I’m determined to get there and move onto lighter things!
Writing shorts is an unintended relief to the hard stuff. I published a new short story, ‘Into the Mist,’ this month, straying into borderline magical realism, a genre I hadn’t intended to venture into, but the story went there, so I had to follow! It was an organic write and poured out, meaning to be a flash fic piece but drifted into the 4k+ zone on draft (way too far to drag back to 1500). It’s different, to, an imagining of a character so different from myself, but with a longing for change that I can understand. Check it out and see what I mean!
It's the bubble team life for me!
We’re looking ahead to Level Two Lockdown as I write – we’ll find out in a matter of days if the country is ready to move again. It’ll mean more change, more anxiety, but it feels like time. At the beginning, six weeks seemed enormous, and now I find it’s flown by, a bit like a second Summer Holidays, but without the birthdays, Christmas and New Year celebrations, outings, or extended family time. Instead we’ve weathered it as a small team, enjoying having parents and kids together, learning new skills like Zoom, and watching my children put on an extra centimetre in height! I’m thankful for the chance to slow down; I think the world needed that, though it would have been nice to do it without illness, job losses, and the pain that many on the planet have been landed with. Covid has truly shown that nothing in life is certain, that we need to be prepared for anything, and that working as a team, whether it be the four in my house, or the 4.8 million in my country, is key.
I hope you’ve all found some positives in the last month, however small they may be. I hope, too, that you’ve avoided illness, that you’ve found some quiet amongst the hustle, and that you can look ahead to something good even if times are hard right now.
Until next month, happy reading!
I’m stuck, I don’t want to. Is this the end for me as a writer?
So, lockdown has killed my writing groove. What can I do to reignite the spark? If, like me, you’re feeling a bit lacklustre, less than inspired, tired, or frustrated, but you want to keep in the groove of writing without actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, what can we do to keep the fire burning? I find if I step back for too long, I lose the urge completely and won’t write for several months – hardly ideal when I’ve chosen to pursue writing as my career. Allowing such a gap, even in these unusual times, could spell the end, the implosion of my goals, and I’m determined not to let that happen.
After a spell of musing, I’ve come up with plenty of activities you and I can get on with to support our writing and authorship without feeling forced. In fact, this is a great time to concentrate on growing your knowledge and expertise of your craft, and to do small things now to get ahead. I’ve put together a list of ideas (feel free to add yours in the comments) that are sure to spark interest, some of which may surprise you. I’m sure there’s something here to keep your passion alive.
Taking a break is important, but stopping completely could be detrimental. It’s possible to take a writing holiday without losing touch by shifting focus for a bit."
A change is as good as a holiday, even if you’re stuck at home.
At this unsettled time, keeping your mind focused on the singular task of writing may be a challenge, but there are plenty of tasks you can apply yourself to that will support you as a writer, and help you get prepared for when you’re ready to tackle the manuscript again.
My (small and gentle) goals during this time are to:
I've really only set goals for this time so I can ensure I do a bit of each. It's totally up to you if you want to work this way.
Here are some ideas to support each goal:
1. Immerse in story…
2. Grow meaningful social media…
3. Learn your craft…
4. Prepare for the future…
These ideas are just the beginning. I’ve caught a few other blog posts out there with more, so hunt them out if you haven’t found something that takes your fancy on mine.
Do take a rest if you need it. We can’t be totally enthralled with what we do all the time, but we can maintain forward motion. Even when we’re feeling lost or completely anti, there are small actions we can take to get through the hard spots. There’s inspiration to be found in the work of others, and through other mediums. Every little step you take now will help you get through and come out the other side in a better position to restart your writing passion.
In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, take those little steps.
P.S. Do you have ideas that others might find useful? Please add them to the comments to help your fellow authors through.
Great news! You can recognise your Thing too!
Hi, I'm Emily,