If you're a fan of Aaron Sorkin's work, then that title will ring familiar to you. In some ways, it's a catch-all for "what's been going on lately." However, Sorkin tends to use it not sarcastically, but more like an understatement.
I'm drafting this blogpost on April 18, exactly two months since my last blogpost. I didn't realize I'd gone the entire month of March without one. It's not hard to understand why. My husband Craig and I kicked off the month with bad colds. (We were concerned they were more than colds, and although the doctor ruled out coronavirus, we were never officially tested, so who knows? It's possible we had extremely mild cases.) Then, like you, we watched the panic of the pandemic unfold: the death. The spread. The hoarding. The systematic shutting down of states.
Meanwhile, we were packing the house for a cross-country move, one in which we'd have to drive through twelve states, several of which were virus hotspots, and take my husband's very high-risk father with us. Our previous plans of execution had all fallen through thanks to the new normal. And believe it or not, the bigger fear was that the sale of the house wouldn't go through.
It did, however. (We signed the documents from our car.) And on March 30, after the moving truck arrived and loaded the contents of two households (try social distancing in that situation), we set out for the six-day drive from Boothbay, Maine, to Billings, Montana. (I tweeted about it after we arrived.)
By the time this blogpost goes live, our 14-day quarantine will be over (ordered by Governor Bullock, but we had planned to do it regardless), but we'll still be adhering the shelter-in-place rules (see previous parenthetical phrase). In the meantime, we're living in temporary housing: a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom condo--a bit downsized from the 3-bed-3-bath house we just left, with less than half the square footage yet remarkably efficient when it comes to storage. In this time of uncertainty, we're not sure how temporary. But rather than stress or complain about what we can't control, we're opting for gratitude and acceptance--there's no clock running on our time in the condo, and it's a decent roof over our heads. We're very trusting that the housing situation overall is going to work out for the best.
After unpacking and settling in as much as we could for the time being, Craig and I immediately went back to work. I know many writers are struggling with focus right now--and who can blame them. However, the reverse is surprisingly true for me. I'm more focused than I have been in a long time. Perhaps it's because we're finally and safely on the other side of this move. Or perhaps it's because we've returned to a community of friends and neighbors that have our backs. We don't feel quite so on our own anymore. Perhaps it's both.
Regardless, I'm writing again. I'm not at the levels of productivity I was when being an author was a full-time career--it's not, and I'm finally at full peace and acceptance with that--but I contribute to a word count each week. I've also launched a new business, something that has energized me in a way I haven't been in years.
There's an accompanying guilt that things could be going so well during a pandemic, that I could feel this good, and that opportunities are opening up rather than shutting down. A good friend had posted on Facebook: "Our daughter was born a month ago and honestly she's bringing me so much joy that I feel like I'm cheating at this whole pandemic thing." My reply was: "More like you're winning at it." Others aren't, however, and that's a heartbreaking juxtaposition.
So how to reconcile the two? By thinking about who and what I'm writing for.
This is no time to hoard joy or good fortune. We're going to have plenty to pay forward thanks to the friends and neighbors that stocked our and my father-in-law's fridges and pantries, and went to the drugstore to pick up some needed supplies. As a certified Reiki Master, I feel called not only to send Reiki to individuals afflicted with the virus, but also to the entire planet Earth (yes, you can do that). I don't think I've ever been so cognizant of our world as home, or its inhabitants--be they in this country or others--as our neighbors. And as a writer, I'm feeling called not to commerce, but to service. Thematically speaking, I don't think what I'm writing is any different from my previous books, but I do think there is something powerful present; if not in the words, then in the intention. What I do may not save lives or stimulate the economy. But I do hope it's a pebble in a pond--regardless of its size, it ripples outward.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.