Monday, March 23, 2020

On Writing, the Pandemic, and Self-Isolation

I’m putting the finishing touches on my latest Geneva Chase novel and getting it ready to send to my publisher by the first week in April. They’ve asked me to put together a 250-word description of the book that could possibly be used on the back cover as well as a 650-word synopsis.

Additionally, it was requested that I send over a description of the “emotional hook” of the novel to help with the cover design.

I can’t recall ever being asked that before. After giving it a fair amount of thought, the “hook” for Shadow Hill is that Geneva Chase is trying to gain control of her life in a world that is out of control.

It struck me as being appropriate for what we’re going through right now. It’s like we’re all living through an improbable international thriller film. It has all the elements of a hell of a story: a viral pandemic for which we have no treatment or vaccine, a slow, clumsy start to testing, we’re running desperately low on hospital masks, gowns, and respirators, entire states being shut down, and a world economy is in shambles.

Don’t even get me started on the politicians.

I’m doing my best to complete my publisher’s requests as well as finishing my manuscript but finding it hard to stay focused. My attention keeps pivoting to real life. I worry that whatever I write can’t possibly compete with the story that’s unfolding worldwide.

I can’t control what’s happening in the world, but when I should be writing, I can control my immediate surroundings. I get myself a hot cup of coffee and turn on some unobtrusive, ambient music. I pull up whatever I’m working on onto my laptop and get to it, ignoring the bad news, at least for the time being.

The world that we writers create is something that we totally control.

An unintended consequence of this virus is the self isolation. I know some people have a problem with it, but I think most writers are good at self-isolation. It's how we work.

I once heard a publisher say, “Most writers are damned hermits.”

Isaac Asimov said, “My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. Creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones.”

PS...because of the coronavirus, all the schools have closed, including our local college where I was teaching creative writing. I was two weeks shy of finishing the course. One of my students sought me out and asked if I would critique the last assignment I'd given them. I took it as a compliment and told him that I would.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Very thoughtful post, Tom. Thanks! Stay well.