Well, hello there, my dear readers.
Firstly, can I apologise, profusely?
I have been very naughty, not posting on here properly for the last six weeks or so, thanks to this ‘thing’ that is happening around the world.
Oh, come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
That coronavirus, or more specifically, COVID-19.
It sure is a surreal world we are living in right now.
Who would have thought that something regarded as a flu of sorts, would bring pretty much all of the world to a standstill? (I know it isn’t like the flu at all, but that is what most people thought at first.)
As reality slowly hits, people you know become affected, infected, and either recover, or the other option. I, personally know of at least two people who have passed away, including a member of our family.
It’s serious, you know, this pandemic.
And amidst all this pandemic we have been given a gift.
The gift of time.
Well, it didn’t feel like a gift, initially.
One minute, we were dealing with a few absences at school. Told to watch out for anyone in the family with a cough or temperature. Then BAM! Schools closed, restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas closed. Other businesses closed offices and encouraged employees to work from home.
It was like being thrown into a parallel universe. One where I was still going to my day job, as a teacher, but to empty classrooms, and just a handful of children, key worker’s kids, so I could help with childcare.
Obviously, with so few kids, not all staff were needed, so we were given a rota to work from. That meant more time at home, to make sure my own family were settling into this new normal. Online learning for them. Working from home for my hubby, who has taken over the dining room with his computers.
‘Great!’ I thought, initially. Lots of time to write!
Because, between you and me, I’ve been getting some nudges to get book two written and out. Folks who have read Aashi’s story in Marriage Unarranged, have really bonded with the cast of characters, and want more.
If you haven’t already, check it out by clicking below!
Now, it’s a good thing that I had some ideas before I published this one, but I didn’t have much time to get words on a screen, or paper, for that matter.
So now, all this time, handed to me on a plate.
Er, no. Well, not for me, and especially not at the beginning.
I felt a block. Mental, emotional, physical, writer’s BLOCK.
My mind went round and round, but wouldn’t focus on my little world with Aashi and her family.
I couldn’t even read like I usually do. Normally, I would read 2-3 books a week, but right now, I couldn’t even concentrate on someone else’s words.
TV and films were the same.
Instead, I kept on refreshing the news, to see what was happening. Social Media tried to plant all sorts of seeds in my mind. I tried to scrabble through the rubbish to find the nuggets of truth.
Then, one day, I just stopped.
I realised that I was driving myself slowly crazy.
My morbid curiosity was rubbing off on the children, and my hubby was getting tired of talking about things too.
So I stopped. Well, not the social media. I can’t totally leave that. But I became more selective with things I was reading. And I only checked the news once a day.
And slowly, the writing mojo crept back, peeking it’s head over my shoulder as I perused things on my computer.
“Come on, Ritu. It’s time, don’t you think? I’ve got a cracker of a story here for you. You know you want to write it, don’t you?”My Writing Mojo
And it was right.
Using the time I wasn’t refereeing between the kids, making food, or cleaning the house, I uncovered moments to reread the words already written.
I found time to really tighten my character bible. I actually have a real Character Bible that I bought and filled with names, descriptions and traits when writing the first book. This was going to be important for me now. Many old characters would feature, but there would be new ones introduced too.
I researched, too. There are elements of this particular story that I haven’t had first hand experience of, and I wanted to make sure that everything sounded realistic. So, armed with my notebook, I trawled websites, and am in the process of finding people to talk to, so I can nail the main element of the storyline.
And finally, and most importantly, I began to produce words. My manuscript has grown by around eight thousand words, which is wonderful. I have been helped by taking part in online writing sprints.
Do you know what writing sprints are?
You set a timer and see how many words you can write in that given time. Sometimes, having a little deadline chasing you motivates you to get those words down. Being alone is fine, but having company is even better.
Obviously, we can’t be with others at the moment, but there is always the internet! One of my favourite, and extremely supportive writer groups on Facebook, Rebel Authors, have been running live writing sprints at various times of the day, where you can be accountable to someone, and get productive. In fact, to make it even more fun, Sacha Black, the organiser, has even arranged a weekly Poison and Prose sprint session once a week, where you can bring your choice of poison, be it alcoholic, or not, and enjoy some funny conversations in between sprinting.
Other days, I have logged into Facebook, and author Lizzie Chantry has a writing group where she has a dedicated writing hour. Again, it is not essential, but having that online accountability makes you focus more.
If I am not writing part of the manuscript, I am formulating new blog posts or author interviews I have been invited to take part in. In fact I even wrote an article for Cysters.org, a charity for individuals with various hormonal issues. If you want to read, please do, by cliicking the link here.
And now I need to set my routine for the next few weeks, keeping this new normal in mind. I will be going into school some days, either for half days or full days. I will be at home for others, where I can use the time the children are doing their online learning to write.
There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, yet, for these strange times, so I can get this next manuscript ready, hopefully in much less time than the nearly twenty years the first one took!
See, every cloud has it’s silver lining, doesn’t it?
Have any of you found your creativity stifled in the current climate, or are you flourishing?