Has the pandemic affected your writing? If so, how? Have your writing habits changed in reaction to the ‘different’ world we are faced with?
I first heard about the new coronavirus at the beginning of February this year. At the time, I was doing some work with colleagues in Beijing and it was mentioned on a group call that certain of the Chinese New Year celebrations were being cancelled because of this illness. I had no idea then, that within two months my whole life would change.
On the day after Milan went into lockdown, I had a work meeting at a client’s premises with a large group of advisors. One advisor had arrived in South Africa that morning from Milan. He mentioned how difficult it had been attending meetings in this city the previous day with everyone sheltering at home. He said that the city was empty.
About two weeks later, both my sons and I became very ill with a strange illness. Michael and I felt as if our throats were blocked and we couldn’t breath. We were both very tired. Gregory had bad headaches and a slight fever. We all needed antibiotics and both Greg and Michael had to have two as the first antibiotic didn’t cure them. Did we have C-19? I don’t know. At that time, there were no C-19 tests in South Africa and the doctor diagnosed us as having throat and chest infections.
South Africa went into a strict lockdown on 26 March. All non-essential businesses were closed and my world went mad. I have never been as busy as I was between April and September this year. Many businesses were taking steps to raise additional debt or capital funding and the disclosure requirements were significant due to the extra business risks posed by Coronavirus and the lockdown.
In answer to the question Has the pandemic affected your writing? the answer is yes because my work hours lengthened from an average of 8 hours a day to about 10 hours a day and I was also working during weekends. This did impact my writing as I had very little time to write which caused me some stress. I like writing and I was finishing off my forthcoming book A Ghost and His Gold which I had hoped to publish in October this year. That did not happen due to the demands of my work and I only sent the book to my publisher in October. I am currently working on the final edit of the printers proof and am aiming to be finished next week with a publication date in January 2021. The editing is also taking longer as I am still busy, although I’m no longer working during weekends. My boys have also been writing exams for the past two weeks and I’ve spent a lot of time helping them prepare.
I have had short stories published in two anthologies during October and I was very pleased about that. The two South African pioneering short stories included in Spirits of the West, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth, were written before lockdown. The two short stories included in Spellbound, compiled by Dan Alatorre, were written during lockdown. I did manage to squeeze these in by getting up early in the morning during weekends and writing for a couple of hours before my house started waking up.
Have your writing habits changed in reaction to the ‘different’ world we are faced with? No, my writing habits haven’t changed. I still blog from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. most days and I still write for three hours every Saturday and Sunday morning and on a Friday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is assuming I have a normal 35 – 40 hour work week as have a reduced hours employment contract (30 hours a week). The reduced hours rarely works, but under non-pandemic circumstances, I get away with a 40 hour week as opposed to the 50 hour week I’d be working if I was employed on a full time basis. I believe my reduced hours gives me some flexibility with my work hours which I need to manage my boys and some of their school and other requirements.
The pandemic has impacted me from a time perspective as I have been even busier than normal. It has not, however, impacted my story ideas or ability to sit down and write. I am very determined and strong willed so I don’t allow anxiety or intrusive thoughts to impact on my productivity generally.
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