Lockdown began on March 22nd with an announcement of rules that seemed draconian and impractical. Social distancing, daily exercise close to home, non-essential shops shut, excursions to the supermarket to be kept to a minimum… How would we survive?
‘Better than expected’ is the answer for most of us, even if the ban on family get-togethers has been miserable and hard to explain to the very young and the very old alike. With so much of ‘normal’ life suspended for the duration, people have seized the opportunity to catch up on household tasks, DIY, decluttering — except you can’t take your clutter to a charity shop yet.
For anyone who writes for a living or as a hobby, lockdown presented an ideal break from the commitments that usually get in the way. I thought I’d get on with my fourth Jeff Lincoln crime novel (I did, a bit) but I also caught up with reading back issues of writing magazines that had been piling up for months. That pushed me into checking on competitions I could enter, which led me to sort out the files on my laptop where finished, half-finished, barely started and abandoned short stories and poems proliferate.
I was surprised by how many of my stories have a supernatural element — even though I think of myself as pretty down-to-earth. Lots of them are also set anything up to 100 years ago — even though I don’t think of myself as an historical writer. And the poetry! Do I only write poems when I’m feeling gloomy and hopeless, because that’s how I come across!
DI Jeff Lincoln 4 has well and truly missed the Silver Crow submissions window, which closed on June 1st, but at least my laptop feels lighter, decluttered of all those half-baked stories and nihilistic poetry! And maybe by September, when Silver Crow’s inviting submissions again, the book will be ready.
At least the summer house is painted now, and I’ve started on the garden fence — painting’s an excellent activity for thinking about stories and poems and what Jeff Lincoln’s going to do next. As lockdown eases, and we cautiously resume activities we’ve put on hold for the duration, let’s hope we value our time a little more, and recognize how much we need each other to make life worthwhile.