I’m having a hard time writing right now. It’s not because of stress. I think I write better in times of stress – which is why approaching deadlines bring out some of my best work.
But, right now I sit at my computer and I stare, then I feel fatigued, finally I get back up and find something else to do. Then I tell myself to go back to my computer, sit and stare, feel fatigued, then get up and find something else to do. It’s the never-ending, exhausting cycle.
It’s possible it’s because we have everyone home right now. I’m used to hours upon hours of solitude — just me and the dogs and cat. I can go into my fictional world and I can stay there until one of them nudges me to go outside or until an alarm goes off reminding me to return to my regular world and greet my children after school.
Right now, there are noises, voices, activity. I have meals to cook, the kitchen to clean, laundry to do. The boys are doing school all day, until 4-5 as a standard, and I help them off and on. We’re taking walks, playing games, staying engaged and encouraging.
But I have the ability to shut an office door and a household of people who respect that shut door, so I’m not entirely convinced that is the reason.
My husband is high risk if he gets COVID-19, as is my father and father-in-law. Military service comes with a price and their bodies paid that toll. We all know if one of them gets sick, it will get bad before it gets worse. That kind of puts our household into a little bit of tension.
But we’ve socially isolated and Gregg wears masks and gloves whenever he goes out. We’re super careful, knowing the longer it takes for him to get this highly contagious virus, the longer doctors and scientists have to develop treatments and/or vaccines.
It’s possible any or all of those excuses are the reasons I cannot create. However, I think it’s way more than that.
Right now, in Alexandra’s Appeal, Alex and Jon are enjoying a summer afternoon in New York City. They’ve had lunch at her favorite deli, they’ve strolled along her avenue, he’s checked into his room at the Viscolli New York…it’s normal and nice and Alex has big news she’s contemplating springing on Jon.
But, right now in New York City, there are over 30,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. There are only four countries in the world with more positively tested people than just NYC. The people in the streets wear masks. Many businesses are closed. There are no shows playing on Broadway, no ferries to the Statue of Liberty.
As I sit down to write my romance, my mind won’t let go of the fact that my happy summer day is right now entirely fiction. What will this summer look like? I have no idea. But I think it’s going to be different from what it has ever been, and not just in New York.
I don’t think that when this social distancing order is lifted that everything will go back to “normal”.
This is a global crisis. It’s going to take a long time to discover our new normal once the initial first wave passes. People will be coping with financial struggles, dealing with loss. I have a feeling there will be new rules and regulations that we’ll need to get used to.
All of that gets in my way when I sit down and try to write. This logical part of my brain won’t let me go into the fictional world I’m creating, and when I try, reality tries to seep in. When I mentioned this to a professional novelists organization I’m a member of, about half of the responding authors are feeling exactly the same thing (so at least I know I’m not alone.) But, the other half claimed that our readers need our fictional world right now, because the real world is as uncertain and as scary as I’ve said here. I totally get that.
Today marks my 8th anniversary since I published my first book: Sapphire Ice. In the last 8 years, I’ve written 30 books, countless articles, spoken and taught around the world, and cultivated relationships with and prayed for authors and readers through the globe.
I know my writing is a gifting from God. My mission statement is to prayerfully craft stories as modern day parables to uplift fellow believers and minister to seekers in our fallen world.
I don’t feel like God is done with me yet. I feel like I’m still on mission, still to use my gifts and keep writing. What’s more, God already knows what this summer looks like, what next year looks like, what next decade looks like. If I’m crippled with uncertainty, it’s not coming from Him.
So, I’m determined to pray through it and find a way to write around the full household and the underlying heightened awareness of our current situations. And my prayer is that this summer romance brings joy and peace to a population who needs extra doses of that right now.