Here I am, day 13 into my own self-isolation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I isolated myself as I’m going through my annual bout of bronchitis. Imagine the looks I get now when I cough… UGH! No fever, just this annoying cough, seven weeks now. Did I already say UGH? Cough! Cough! Cough!
You would think, with all this down time, I’d be able to finish my work in progress, DeJa Vu, Here We Go Again… Book II, in my Unbroken Series, right? Well, if you paid attention to the image on this post, YES, I finally finished my first draft yesterday… YEAH! But it wasn’t easy. Cough! Cough! Cough!
I had just hosted a big golf tournament at my golf club (145 ladies all dressed in pink) to benefit the American Cancer Society. Yes, COVID-19 was in the news, and we knew it was coming to the U.S., but it was all so surreal. Really, in this great country? There’s no way this is going to effect us…naive, right? Cough! Cough! Cough!
Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the day after direct, close and hugs all around, contact with 145 ladies, I began to wonder if my cough, really was just a cough. Taking my temp every couple of hours; I was kind of freaking out a bit. This thing IS REAL, and it really is going to effect us. (I won’t keep typing Cough! Cough! Cough!, but just imagine it’s at the end of every paragraph.)
So now I’m home (my choice) and trying really hard to get a grip, and stop freaking out. I sit down in front of my computer and… nothing. I go back and reread the last few chapters I managed to pound out before the virus went viral… no help. I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t think it was writer’s block, I think it was anxiety. I now have all this time on my hands… WHY CAN’T I WRITE? Hence, more anxiety. (Refer above.)
A few nights, every time I fell asleep, I woke back up with a start. Would I wake up in the morning? People are dying from this. I’m having trouble catching my breath; bronchitis? Is it? Take my temperature, 97.9, PHEW!
Exaggerating? Maybe. You see, as a two-time breast cancer survivor, my immune system is not top notch. In fact, if I get a cold (which I inevitably do every January), it turns into bronchitis. I made myself a wreck so no, not writer’s block, stress and anxiety.
After a downward spiral of about four days, I decided to get busy with other activities. From what the news was saying, we’d be in isolation for a little while… I had time to get back to my manuscript. My life was so crazy busy before COVID-19; my friends kept telling me, you’ve got to slow down, you’re running yourself ragged. Well, that’s just my nature. I like to stay busy; I like to take on projects. Oh, and not just any old projects, BIG ONES! And if it’s 110% (I know that’s not possible) that’s needed, I’m the person for the job. So I begin to think, maybe this is the time I just slow the F*** down. All those To Do projects I kept walking by at home thinking, I’ll get to you one day soon, that day, was now.
I lost a dear friend to leukemia (as a result of treatments from her breast cancer) some years back. I planted my back yard flower bed in her honor, Marla’s Garden. That was my first To Do project I would tackle. I was at Home Depot at 7:30 a.m., basically sunrise. Luckily, it was just me, the cashier and someone delivering the day’s flowers. I was in and out in 15-minutes with the most beautiful pink (breast cancer), purple (her favorite color), orange (leukemia) and red (she was so full of love) flowers. It took me two days to move the little flowers that popped up every year (purple and pinks); nurturing was also a big part of Marla, and do my spring planting for her garden. I felt so accomplished and I felt the love of friendship and kindness, she represented. Stress and anxiety level, now a 5.
I love succulent plants. I have a planter I started a few years ago, that is just beautiful. Once I found the right fertilizer, they have grown so big. I have one rose plant that is OMG! Well, I have a few other little ones (favors from the golf tournament I hosted) just waiting for their very own pot. Next project… tackled! Level 3.
At one-week into my self isolation, I attempt to go back to my manuscript. Once I started, I didn’t want it to end. The words were just flowing, my characters were back to life, their words couldn’t be stopped. WOO HOO! Eventually I did have to stop, just because it was getting really late, and I knew hubby was ready for sleepy-time. That night I could not sleep…for the right reasons. My characters were plotting in my head what tomorrow’s lines would read. Two hours I laid there, smiling, welcoming their input. I’m writing again.
I wake the next morning, hoping to be as excited and raring to go like I was last night, COUGH! COUGH! COUGH! COUGH! COUGH! UGH! I feel like crap! OH NO! Take my temp…98.3, PHEW! My day was pretty much on the couch, taking as many little naps as I could, willing myself the energy to get back to my computer. That never happened. In fact, the next day, feeling a little better, I sat at my computer and my little friends, just wouldn’t come out and play. I tried enticing them, but they were nowhere to be found. Anxiety? Stress? Bronchitis? UGH…who knows, another opportunity gone.
I made a few futile attempts at working on my story, putting some words down, but they didn’t have the fire, energy I was used to having when I write. Any writers reading this, know exactly what I mean. This is crazy, I have all this time and I CAN’T WRITE!
I love music, especially the kind that makes you want to move…dance I say, dance. So that’s what I did. I put my headphones in my ears, sang Bruno Mars, JLo, LMFAO, etc… songs to my hearts contempt. It was so much fun! I boggie oggie oggied down for about thirty minutes, and felt so much better.
After coming downstairs, and sincerely apologizing to my poor husband who found it very difficult to work with my beautiful off-key voice screaming from upstairs (and that was with the door closed), I was back at my computer. I imagined Amber, Zya, Debra, and Dominique (Facade main characters) all grooving with me… we had a dance party. That’s what I needed.
The next two days, I wrote about 10,000 words each, and violá, DeJa Vu’s first draft is finished. WOO HOO!
I’m still coughing (it sucks!), but the anxiety and stress is now down to a level 2. I’m not going a million miles anymore, in fact, at the end of the day when something I thought I might get done, isn’t… I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m not procrastinating, I’ve got quite a few more tomorrows at home to get it done.
So yes, with all this down time, we should be able to write, but the struggle is real. In fact, you might just find some real, raw emotions being pounded out on keyboards all around the world as we go through this pandemic. Might be some of the best writing of our generation. But please, no contagion books. Not sure any author could make it any more real than it already is.
Now, off to first round editing. Stay safe and healthy everyone. Cough! Cough! Cough