Artist In Residence: The Quarantine Diaries, Episode 2

I’m not sure about all of you but I’m falling prey to an odd sort of… paralysis.

I pick up something to do and then I discover that I had unconsciously lain it down because I’m staring at the computer screen where dire news is scrolling by, or I am simply sitting there thinking, “I have nothing but time… I’ll finish it later…”

I have a half-tidied office. I have a half-written story. I have a half-edited another story. I have a half-planned book promo for the new novel coming up in the summer.

it’s as though I’m mired in a lethal mixture of “I have time on my hands – if I finish it now I will have literally NOTHING to do later” and “it doesn’t matter anyway because who knows if summer will come at all and if it does if anyone is going to be interested in buying a new novel anyway”.

And they’re talking about more of this. Weeks more of this. Maybe months more.

I have to figure out what we’re going to EAT by that time, a much more existential thing than the stuff I’m fiddling with now. Me, my husband, my elderly mom, my cats. Stores are shuttering; grocery stores that used to be open 24 hours – was it only last week? – are now opening at 6 am and closing at 10 pm, and others are opening at 10 in the morning and closing at 6. Even when you DO go shopping for esential these days, now you have to carefully plan the trip – and you don’t know if you’ll find what you need if you DO get in during the new hours. The US government has decided that a one-time payment of $1200 – to some people, there are strange gradations to this if you look at it closely – is enough of an “incentive” payment for the people out there. Of those what ARE going to get the money, some get it relatively quickly (in two or three weeks…) and others might have to wait a month, or six weeks, or more. For $1200. In sum total. To replace steady income work pay.  In the meantime, hospitals are running short of everyhting (inckuding staff). Streets are empty (someone posted a photo of downtown Manhattan and people it’s frightening…). Old people, particularly less than wealthy old people, are supposed to want to flock to euthanasia points so that the stock markets might continue to support the young(er) and rich(er) segments of the population.

We’re in a dystopian novel. And honestly if any of us writers had penned this and submitted it to a publisher it would probably have been rejected. I’m pretty sure of that. There are some truths which are simply too unbelievable to write fiction about.

I suppose I should go finish at least one of my half-begun tasks. I suppose I should go get myself another cup of cofee – while I have some, anyway. I suppose I should start thinking about how to rewrite all of this as a better story.

It’s a challenge.

I’ll get to it. As soon as I… finish… SOMETHING.

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Artist In Residence: The Quarantine Diaries, Episode 2 — 7 Comments

  1. Grocery shopping has always been a planned event for us–18 miles away involves several hours. We use to do this at a time when we could have lunch out as part of the process.

    Now it is a carefully planned event. We tried the early hour for seniors but… they were still stocking shelves and a number of things I needed hadn’t made it from the back of the store to the front. I tried curbside pick up. There’s a week to 10 day waiting list for an appointment. They suggested delivery, not in my zip code.

    I feel like pioneer days when a trip to town was and EVENT worth getting dressed up for. I have to put on a mask. That’s getting dressed up for Halloween.

  2. I’ve been thinking about vacuuming for over a week! I have managed to get a few seeds ordered and negotiated a labor swap for space in a friends vegetable garden. Of course now I have to start the tomato and eggplant seeds …
    So far I have managed to do the laundry before I completely run out of clean underpants!

  3. Thanks, Alma — I’m doing the same thing! I suppose a lot of us are wandering around in a daze. I feel lucky that at least we can get out for walks with Bear dog. But maybe I should actually work on that danged novel-in-delayed-progress….

  4. I still have the day-job, which helps keep me honest. And making masks has provided me with a purpose in the middle of all these stretches of time. On the other hand, I’m only juuuuuust getting back to the writing work I should be doing.

    I come from one of those families were you were what you last accomplished… so I keep wanting to fill every second with accomplishment, which is not only insane but unhealthy. So I’m working on that–at least, I’m working on the panicky sense that if I don’t DO something with every moment I’m being a Bad Person. This is not the time when you want to have that sort of programming. So I fall into the paralysis thing too.

    Sigh. Human-ing is hard.

  5. I pushed hard to meet the tax deadline even with the extensions–I just wanted them done. Now I am fighting to stay calm in a world where we are not united in powering through, like we were at 9/11. I am reading several hours a day–right now old favorites, although I have ordered some new books. And trying to make sure I miss no bill payments.

    May you find a good place of calm soon, even if only for a few hours a day. For me, groceries are 17 miles one way and longer by drive, so I am used to having more than a week on hand. But the holes, looking for critical things…sigh.