Lockdown: You know how everyone has up-days and down-days? And during this pandemic, they’re only too ready to tell you all about it? Today is my depression down-day. And yes, you’ve most likely read the same self-indulgent nonsense from a hundred other people, but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
These are my five reasons not to be cheerful. I share them hoping that by getting them off my chest, depression will lift. And if you recognise how yourself in these words, you’ll feel better too.
What’s the point in writing a book?
Since lockdown, every vaguely sentient being has decided it’s time they found that one book that supposedly lives inside us all. WTF! There’s already enough competition. If every actor, comic, singer or lead guitarist now thinks this is their moment to shine, what chance is there for a mid-table writer with a feisty new RomCom in the works?
Is my book historical fiction?
I’ve been working on ‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ for the best part of a year. I’m editing a story written pre-lockdown. People hang out together. they kiss. Love happens. At one point there’s a very messy three-way bedroom scene (not what you’re thinking). Do I tweak scenes to imply contact? What will the new normal (TM) look like? If I started over, would I write a very different story? Most of what I know is the comedy of interaction. Am I past my sell-by date?
Even without distractions, I’m not writing
I can no longer blame my sluggish pace on lunch invitations or meeting mates for coffee. Or shopping. I’m on furlough from my proper job, and that means eight weeks of time to write. I figured If I got up early, sat down at nine and worked through, I’d soon complete ‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’. Instead, I’ve picked a perfectly good plot to pieces, and spent days staring at the same piece of dialogue. That’s when I’m not hoovering, baking bread, polishing mirrors, washing windows, ironing, sitting down for a cup of tea, watching a box set or reading the news … or Facebook … or Twitter. Long story short, even with zero distractions, targets whoosh past.
What if I lose my proper job?
I can’t be alone in letting this fear fill my every waking minute. How can anyone write when they might end up having nothing left to do but write?
When all of this started, we told ourselves lockdown might last two to three months. Now we’re looking at the rest of this year. Maybe longer. And how many companies can afford to pay their staff until then?
As any writer will tell you, books don’t buy you much in the way of a life. Unless you’re already rich and famous … and then they absolutely do.
People annoy me – even more now we can’t mix
Thursday at 8pm should be a time for communal joy. The first time our nation clapped for carers, I was moved. Genuinely. My cold dark heart thawed. By week eight, the magic is gone. There’s an element of: if you don’t clap, you hate nurses and deserve to die. The ageing homo who lives above, blasts Vera Lynn from his beat box while the students two doors down take a break from what sounds like a constant state of virtual pub quiz. And when I see politicians who only three months earlier were busy selling off ‘our NHS’ clap their money-grabbing hands, my head hammers.
Having shared my five-item list, a weight has lifted. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll knuckle back down and tidy the words back into pages and into chapters and then a book.
That’s really all we have.