Living the Dream in COVID-19

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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Last Summer, you may recall that I suddenly found myself trapped at home for 13 weeks with a broken ankle. And if you know me, you understand that this was actually a HUGE gift. As a dog walker who takes out two groups of six dogs for off-leash play daily, I’m generally exhausted at the end of each day, and making writing near-impossible. In fact, I’m lucky if I can even play Candy Crush while watching Bob’s Burgers endlessly at the end of a normal workday.

Facing 13 weeks of being mostly bedridden, I now had no excuse to procrastinate working on the novel I’d been attempting to write since late 2017. I’ll admit, the first three weeks of being bedridden were mostly wasted on watching TV, listening to podcasts and writing a few blog posts. But eventually, I got serious, got organized, got plotted, and wrote the majority of my latest novel (paranormal thriller, BTW) between late August and late October of 2019. The premise was strong, the characters were awesome and the plot eventually found a great pattern, once I cut out all the dragging-it-down stuff.

Then, in late October, I went back to work. The first month kicked my ass so seriously that I’d pretty much go to bed by ten or eleven. I basically went from 100 steps a day to 5,000 and then 9,000 steps a day. On top of that, there were SO MANY ERRANDS that needed to be run that I was quite useless by the time I got home. I did get to work on editing, but that work was mostly spent taking notes about all the crap I should change in the second draft rather than actually working on it.

In January and February, I did manage to get a fair amount of progress done on Draft 2, and when we took a short five-night holiday to a cabin on the Russian River, I really cooked on it. I made it almost to the very end before we left to come home, knowing full well that work was going to massively mess with my mojo.

We got home on Thursday, March 12.

Talk of Coronavirus was really ramping up while we were away, but all of that was a distant drama happening outside of our little woodsy vacation bubble. I’d check the news, and did worry sometimes about what the future held, but it wasn’t until the trip home that we realized the oh-shit implications. Lockdown in San Francisco seemed imminent. I’d come down with a bad head-cold just before my vacation, and while I doubted it was COVID-19, I knew it could conceivably be an easy version of it. I wanted to get tested, but friends who straight-up KNEW they had it could not get tested, so I knew it wasn’t going to happen for the vaguely curious.

I was supposed to start back up at work on March 16th, but instead, stayed home. I just felt so worried about potentially spreading whatever I had to someone whose system might not be able to handle it that I was up all night the night before. And by the time I finally woke up on Monday afternoon, I had a text from  a client telling me she’d have to cancel due to the shelter-in-place order. She wanted to take her dog with her to her parents’ home rather than be stuck alone in the City.

I squinted at my phone, confused. Shelter-in-place? I turned to the news, and realized that I was just ahead of my time, because work was cancelled for the immediate future.

I’m going to admit it: I was pretty thrilled. Firstly, I had no idea if I had a cold or something worse and did not want to spread it, least of all to my clients. Secondly, I already knew from the Summer of My Broken Ankle that I EXCELLED at staying home. I TOTALLY TRAINED FOR THIS! Thirdly, I knew I could finish editing Draft 2 and maybe even Draft 3 with the extra month or two of no work.

Cut to: Me, obsessively checking different news sources online for pretty much two weeks non-stop. Those first two weeks of lockdown were a haze of Tiger King, internet surfing, and considering booking a trip back to the Russian River. Also looking at a lot of distant real estate and daydreaming about moving far, far away from the maddening pandemic crowd.

Finally, though, I prepped for finishing Draft 2. For some reason, truly serious work was hard to do with my husband sitting right there, so I started getting to it after he’d gone to bed. I stayed up ridiculously late working heavily on Act 3 of my book, rewriting just about all of it and throwing out huge chunks of anti-climactic chatter.

Now, I am ONE SCENE away from being finished with Draft 2. This is a FAR CRY from being Actually Finished; Drafts 3 and 4 await and man, are they pushing at me to get on it! But the writing of this last scene is staring at me, and I’m running away, just as I did with Draft 1. I suspect that I don’t want it to be over because I love this book so much, even though I know damn well that it’s far from over, as Frank Stallone once sang (or his ghost singer did–whatever!.

So I’m here now, committing to finishing Draft 2 TONIGHT, and prepping notes for what I want to start doing with Draft 3 TOMORROW. You heard me: I’m creating SHORT-TERM GOALS, with an eye towards getting a draft worthy of being edited by a pro by early May.

I hate to sound like I’m finding a silver lining on the COVID-19 cloud that’s all about me, but you know what? I kind of am. I mean, I can’t think of a worse way to get this much time off short of setting myself or a loved one on fire, and I know there’s going to be ongoing adjustments in a post-quarantine world. But if you’re gonna be quarantined, you may as well find a project to work on, amirite?

I don’t think that simply wishing for more time off brought all of this on–I’m not that self-aggrandizing. For now, though, I’d better get back to work! Happy COVID project, everyone!

 

 

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