We in the western world have never seen the like of Coronavirus and it seems that one of our coping strategies is to talk, talk, write, write about it. I see online, and from casual conversation, that many would-be writers are announcing that they will use their enforced idleness to do some proper writing. I wonder if they will.
NanoWriMo writers are invited to share their activities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and Nano are also launching a Young Writers’ Program. It looks interesting.
Also there’s the Uplifting Stories for Crazy Times group on Facebook. This is a ‘private’ group, only visible to members, and I’m not sure who is eligible to join, but the stories are wonderfully light-hearted and do lift morale.
Me, seeing as all my work streams have now dried up, I’ve signed up to, and have started doing (is this the right word?) the Curtis Brown Creative Weekly Workout. It’s definitely not a writing course, but an opportunity to work writing exercises on your own, with the guidance of someone with experience in publishing. (If you want personal feedback, you pay £35 for each piece.) The first thing I’ve done – today – is free-writing for 15 minutes, without being allowed to go back and correct or edit. (Well, I did edit a bit. I couldn’t help myself.) Next I write about an object I’ve come across while decluttering.
Finding the time is the thing. You’d think that with no work I’d have LOADS of time. That’s what I thought, Dear Reader, but … there’s putting content on to our church website… storing and acknowledging entries to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction competition… window-cleaning… talking to daughter and son on FaceTime and on WhatsApp video…. and just writing to people. I mean, friends, family, those I go to church with. Our church is running an email stream entitled ‘Coffee Time’ in which we share the little humdrum things of our days, what make the world go round. Never have I written and received so many emails, texts and WhatsApp messages.
It’s like all our conversations are being carried out online. Where are those whingers who moan about ‘sochal medja’ now? It’s a life-saver even for us who have it easy and are just ‘staying at home’. Boris allows us out only to do ‘essential shopping’, walk a dog (which we don’t have – our cat is too lazy to go out anyway!) and to exercise (close to our homes – not driving miles to the Peak District as a couple of walkers famously did yesterday). For people who have the virus and are in hospital and for people in care homes, it’s much more than that.
A few nights ago, people in the UK raised a round of applause for its health workers. Let’s also do a Like – on whatever medium you wish – for Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the internet. Otherwise, we’d be climbing up the wall. I’m starting a Twitter thread now. Find me. My Twitter handle is @REJohnsonWriter.
And don’t forget the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Competition. Closing date this coming Tuesday.