“My word of the year should be Exploration! I want this year to be about going out and discovering new things!”
New Zealand doesn’t have community transmission – yet. All our cases are recent arrivals from overseas or their immediate families and connections. It’s still unnerving to see the number rise every day. 39 cases now.
I’m staying in, mostly. Last week I dropped books at the library, and took a distressingly crowded bus home. People standing, packed all the way to the front. I tried not to touch anything, which was not the easiest thing in the world. I had a drink or four with a friend, and while the bar wasn’t crowded for a Friday night, there were still quite a few people there.
But that was last week.
This week, we’ve closed the borders to anyone who isn’t a long-term resident. This week, things are starting to feel a bit more dire, a bit more desperate. And, aside from a visit to the supermarket – it wasn’t that crowded but there was no bread to speak of in the entire store – I have stayed in. But, let’s face it, I nearly always stay in. Where would I go? I just finished my degree, and I don’t have a job yet, and with the wage subsidies brought in now, more and more people working remotely, and the uncertainty of the near future, I’m pretty concerned that no one will be hiring.
The perfect time, one might say, to build a portfolio. Or write a novel. I wonder, though, how many people are being productive right now. It’s hard to concentrate. There’s an odd kind of low-level worry, like everyone is aware that the volcano outside of town has just started smoking but the time has not yet come to flee, so we’re waiting around to see what happens next. We’ve seen the projections. We’ve heard the concerns. 18 months for a vaccine. It’s a lot harder to write than it should be. But then, there’s a lot more to do in the home than Shakespeare had to deal with. He didn’t have Netflix, YouTube, and a video game console.
There is one thing, however, we can all be writing:
Advice from a historian in the Boston area: Start keeping a journal today, ideally a hand written one if that’s within your ability. Write about what you’re seeing in the news, how yr friends are responding, what is closed in yr neighborhood or city or state or country. Save it.
— Shane Landrum, PhD (@cliotropic) March 12, 2020
I read quite a few plague diaries and chronicles for my dissertation a couple of years back. They are fascinating. Please write your own. I started mine yesterday, and it’s helpful just to get out your own thoughts and concerns as you detail events as they happen. What are you doing? What is your family doing? Your community? Your government? It feels good to write things down, to process them. I chose to write in a dedicated notebook.
There are advantages to living at the bottom of the world. We can shut the borders and keep ourselves apart. I had wondered what this would feel like. I expected it to feel frightening, isolating. Instead, it feels a little safe. One day the borders will open again, and when they do, the world may look very different.
Please share: what are your writing plans for this strange period in which we are living? Are you productive, or are you having difficulty? Are you writing non-fiction, short stories, a novel, poetry? Share your thoughts, goals, blogs, work. If nothing else, we have plenty of time to read.