I won't lie. the first three weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown were ugly. Locked down on my own, conscious of my autoimmune disorder, with increasingly uncertain timelines as to when I could see friends and family again...
I didn't cope very well. I think I spent that time grieving. And definitely not writing. Words eluded me, slid, eel-like away. Trying to write horror felt like it was triggering cognitive dissonance - with my brain trying to stay positive, yet simultaneously trying to go to dark places to write. To top it all, we had a family illness, and I felt the acute loneliness of being separated from your loved ones at such a time.
So I turned to reading, and started devouring Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, my comfort reads. And when the words came back, I wrote other things. I've always longed to stretch myself a little, past the confines of my beloved Gothic and folk horror. Now, in June, I've almost finished a co-written epistolary comic novel, in the style of Georgette Heyer, and as I wrote in the last blog post, I applied for and got accepted on to a crime writing course, 'Criminal Intent,' which has sparked a whole other realm of ideas and ambitions.
But even more crucially, I slowed down. I realised I'd spent so much of the last few years running from my busy job to write and back again, travelling for work, for conferences, for conventions. All my 'life stuff' was forever on hold, pushed off as unimportant. So I've doing small stuff. Calling friends. Talking to neighbours. Walking within the allotted perimeters. Settling in my own home.
I've been contributing stories to charity horror anthologies too, like 'I Write Your Name' to You Are Not Alone (Storgy) and the reprint of 'The Cure' for Infected 2: Tales To Read At Home (Things In The Well). A tiny thing to do, but it feels good. And I'm thrilled to have a brand new folk horror story, 'Dearg-an-Daol' (written before lockdown) coming out in Fiends In The Furrow 2 (Nosetouch Press), as well as a reprint of my story 'Graveyard Of The Lost' in Graveyard Smash: Women Of Horror 2 (Kandisha Press) – an American women-run horror press.
There are a few other exciting things in the pipeline too, but that's for my next blog post.
So I guess for now, I'm just sharing my experience of writing during lockdown. I'm acutely aware that writing is problematic right now, and I freely acknowledge that experience. I'm also conscious of my privilege in living in a beautiful little Irish village with walks and fresh air during this time. But I wanted to share my reality of changing tracks, and how doing so helped the words come back. I haven't written horror yet...that's still a little way off while the world around us continues to plunge past pandemic terror into horrific acts of racism.
But in the meantime I've found other words and other modes.
And with that I'm content.