Writing in the Time of COVID

On the Big Table

I don’t get extra time to write in. I save maybe 20 minutes of commute per day, but I’m desperate to get up and stretch after a 9 hour shift telecommuting. I work for local government, and the work I do keeps the money for vital services flowing. I’m glad I can do this– it feels like I’m helping the community get through this and having something to do keeps my anxiety under control.

But I am anxious. I have severe asthma, as does my husband. Some other conditions that bump our risk, too, but since inability to breathe is the main killer with this disease, that’s where my mind goes. This isn’t the first time my health has forced me to be bound up indoors for over a month, but it is the first time I felt so endangered. A bad asthma run usually just leaves me feeling half-dead… which is part of how write the inside view of a vampire’s physical existence as being uncomfortable.

Beyond time management and distraction, editing my most recent manuscript, Forever in Deep, pushed me to reveal something sooner than I’d planned about Nicola Durante’s family. The 1918 flu pandemic and aftermath had not been something I expected to be so relevant to today when I was working on his background.

Allan’s been unable to work from home, but he is working hard. Currently, he’s working on the cover for Forever in Deep. (The painting above wasn’t done by him, but me. I thought it just seemed seasonal, and it has a book in it.) And he’s recording Forever Haunted. 

I hope you are all staying well and safe. This is one strange virus and we still don’t know the long term effects on the survivors. Flattening the curve is buying society time to deal with it.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it. Try and enjoy the spring whatever what you can, even if it’s just opening some windows and hearing the birds sing.

Writing in a different time period

research

The internet makes doing basic research so much easier for many things.

I was going to use the phrase “coloring inside the lines” and then had to ask myself– would a guy in his 30’s in the 40’s use that phrase? When were coloring books invented? They seem like something that’s just been around forever. Well, it only took about a minute to do the research to find out they’d been around about 100 years by then, so yes, it was fine to use.

fireman-my-trusty-axe-paul-ward

Likewise, I needed to see if a fire-axe back then fit my mental image of one… even though I don’t describe it in detail, there was a possibility I would use it on the cover. Another question I had was if a passport problem would legitimately be used to delay someone leaving the country.

Back before the internet, I’d have needed to look for very, very specific history books for images of fire axes, an encyclopedia for the coloring book history, and as for the passport issue, I’d probably need to look into procedural handbooks from the New York-New Jersey Port Authority from 1948. Finding those sources would all have been difficult.

There’s something wonderful about having so much information at our fingertips.