Taking care of you and your creative mind in a messed up world....a pandemic

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

It's funny because in March or whenever it was and the world was going slightly crazy with the only news being one of COVID government daily updates and Save the NHS, Save Lives, Stay at Home. Lockdown was an imminent life change, for some, maybe most. For me, dare I say it I was quietly looking forward to it. I lockdown most days, have done for the last God knows how many years. Sitting quietly in a room with just the occasional noise of the weekly dustcart or combine harvester or even the daily 9 a.m arrival of a huge Hermes lorry that would deliver countless parcels to a neighbour for her to courier about, a neighbour who I barely know - you see how much I like lockdown, I don't even know my neighbour over the lane, I've lived opposite her for seven years now. I'm an Oscar-winning pro at lockdown, hiding away and writing either my novel or studying for my counselling qualification. I couldn't be happier with this lifestyle. But Governmental Lockdown, WHAT? You mean I have to do this with everybody in my quiet space too?? Well, that's a different story. Maybe there's one I'll pen one day.

To begin with, it seemed relatively easy. It was novel enjoyable and then after the weeks passed and the novelty of taking a register for fun and making history in my journal of the day I became a mummy teacher taking the register. Of course, all four children were present and what bright little buttons they were with their laptops and headpieces on as they resembled miniature pilots on a daily basis. Fast forward two weeks and even their enthusiasm was lagging with 'yes mummy we're here' as they slumped on their desks, well dining room table and my enthusiasm of wanting to cook lunch was waning. A pot of olives wasn't an option....really, you mean I need to cook again!! Oh my, lockdown which was a heavenly paradise for me was now becoming quite the opposite.

The noise that went with it, the constant I'm hungry, the lack of motivation and my inability to sit and quietly write. I think I lost a few chapters of writing in lockdown. I often sit on the beach and write and when it's glorious weather, I can't because I'm in lockdown. I often walk across the field and think through the story and realise a plot and add a character and tie up a plotline or thread yet I couldn't do that. I would always come home with a burst of energy of how I would write that chapter and then I couldn't because we were in lockdown and the freedom of that walk had been taken, the fear of seeing someone or touching the latch on a bridle path or someone sneezing on me. I windsurf too at least twice a week and I love that, I love to be out on the water even in the winter and think about nothing else other than my story. But I couldn't do that. I guess for those who are extrovert and need to be up and out and with people and be loud, lockdown would have been a pretty unbearable time for them. For me it was easy but I would have preferred it alone. I required some peace, lockdown's hard when you can't do it quietly, in my writing world.

You have to look after your mind and your own sanity and for me that was every Thursday at 9am when I did a weekly shop. To stand in a queue in a silent world with the sun beating down. You could hear a pin drop, there was no traffic, people waited patiently without huffing and puffing, people actually smiled at you or get this even said, 'hello.' Maybe they were craving hearing from another human being or maybe lockdown had done a clever thing like rebalance the world. Making people care, bringing together communities, taking on an almost war-like approach of rallying around. People communicated with one another rather than being glued to a phone, Facebook, a screen. In the queues for shopping rarely did I see anybody on a phone, what a joy. It's like when you get in a lift, I would stand far back and hope nobody would talk to me, I think that's a British thing. I lived in Paris for a number of years and the French would get into the same lift as me and give me a cheery 'Bonjour' and then talk to whoever. I would always hide my eyes so they wouldn't talk to me. When they left the lift they'd leave with 'Bon Journée' meaning 'Have a good day,' We would no sooner do that than fly to the moon here in blighty.

Yet now, people are itching to say hello at every opportunity. Stopping to chat to a stranger, keeping their minds alert, happy, so needed. The queue on a Thursday morning was embraced by conversation from those waiting. The absolute need to simply talk to somebody else outside of their house, instead of on zoom. I think in the whole of lockdown I did zoom twice. I know friends were doing all manner of zoom events but for me rigging up to squares on a screen, well I prefer to sit in the orchard and dream up another novel. Finding my outdoor quiet space was my challenge for three months, not being allowed to do it was hard. I craved it.

For me as a writer not to be able to people-watch in a coffee shop or on a beach because lockdown had been enforced, threw my creativity somewhat. I'd still write as soon as the sun came up. The weather was balmy and gorgeous but I needed a little more than the four walls that surrounded me. Just that simple flat white or mocha in a coffee shop was enough for me to watch and write sentences in my head and form new chapters.

September, the most amazing month ever. The peace that fell back upon this house was awesome and I could write all day with no distractions. I could knuckle down to my counselling studies, that I kept turning away from. I can't describe how that feeling feels when you are back in your own mini-world of writing lockdown, forming new characters, enjoying writing about old ones and the best part of it finish the sequel a few weeks later. On the 6th of October 2020 at 11.46 am, post lockdown I finished writing The Butterfly Trap and although it goes through the whole publishing process now where there are many more hoops before the world can read it, I have now begun to pen my next novel...which is just the best feeling ever. My counselling course has restarted, having stopped prematurely in March.

September has become the most amazing month ever. The children excited to be going back to school and seeing their friends again. Reinforcing a little normality back into their lives. Enjoying being back in a school classroom and throwing themselves back into the sports they loved and missed.

This Pandemic has messed up the world, but if anything, it's taught us that our mind is important, look after it. Our mental health is important, check in on yourself and others once in a while. And like the big boys of the commerce world who have decided that to work from home saves money. Remember - working from home can be a lonely place, people need interaction. By our very nature, humans need humans. It's been shown quite simply in a shopping queue on a Thursday morning, the need for people, strangers, to talk to one another. It's so much bigger than zoom and your cognitive brain. People need people, a hug, a handshake, a natter in the office kitchen. Even I do, and I like being in a quiet space.

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