Being confined to home, away from friends and family, has been hard on all of us. I am really missing being with my people. Video meetings are helping to sustain me. I just finished playing online games with my family. I think we are spending more time together now than we have in a long time, outside of holiday gatherings—and, we have already missed one of those. A combined Easter and my youngest nephew’s seventeenth birthday was the impetus for everyone figuring out how to get hooked into a video gathering. We all had a facsimile of a cake (mine was a cookie) and a candle (mine was a votive). We sang “Happy Birthday,” and hung out for another hour, just talking. It was the first time I had seen my mother since Christmas.
I began my sheltering-in-place on February 29, the day of the first US death from COVID-19, not ten miles from my home. The following weeks were chaotic and stressful and lonely. By late March, folks were figuring out how to get together, and I was invited to several online parties and happy hours. The best gathering of all was the first ever virtual Two Hour Transport—my monthly SciFi/Fantasy reading group. We experimented with how to best run the meeting so the reader could read without extraneous noise, but so the audience could applaud and give kudos when the reader was finished. It was a lovely evening, even if we couldn’t touch one another or share a meal. It nourished my soul, just when I needed it, and reinforced that these are my people.
A lot of my writer friends have commented on how difficult it has been to write during this stressful time. I have had a different experience—I found I had to write. I don’t normally write flash fiction—although, the only other short works I’ve written have been in this format—and certainly not in the first person, present tense. During my period of isolation, stories started popping out. It might have actually begun with my brain replacing the words of “The End Of The World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” by REM.
Oh, great. It starts with a headache,
Lethargy and great fatigue,
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Don’t cough! Don’t sneeze! Stay at home! You’re diseased!
World serves it’s own needs. DON’T SERVE YOUR OWN NEEDS!
There are a lot of words in that song! I was obsessed with writing new ones for a while, but pulled myself out of it after making it through the first verse. I moved on to a story about a vampire in search of a victim in a shut down Seattle. The second story was also a vampire tale. I like both of these stories. I read the first one at Two Hour Transport, and received encouragement to submit it—which I did. I’m still waiting for the rejection (or it being accepted, but I assume rejection). After those first two, things got darker—both in the real world, and in the stories I wrote. The next one was a Freddy Krueger-like nightmare, then a few about real-world folks dealing with the virus, including one seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old. I wrote a poem—another oddity for me. Then, a story about a young adult, eight years in the future. I call the genre Near-future Dystopia. Comments from people I read it suggested I need to offer more hope. It just doesn’t feel that way.
I quit writing, for now. I have been spending more and more time coding, which is good for me, both mentally, and for my new business. It feels like a better use of my time right now, and gives me hope for the future. I also made some updates to my personal website, including publishing the second of the corona virus vampire tales I wrote last month, “Frozen Pig’s Blood.” If you get a chance, read it and let me know what you think. All my latest blog posts are there, as well. It’s easier to keep up with me on that site than here. Too many platforms to maintain…
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