Re-starting in a new normal
Firstly, dear reader, I do hope you’re well, and that you and your nearest and dearest have managed to avoid the worst of this current period of pain and uncertainty. If not, know that my thoughts are with you.
The last time I raised my head to let you know what was going on in my world was on March 22, and I mentioned a hint of the chaos around us. Well, one day after that, the government, here in the UK, put in place a nationwide lockdown, which continues as I write this.
Personally, I can’t complain. My family and I are coping as well with the lockdown as could really be hoped, although much of our energies go into caring for — and home-schooling — our children. And so far, we haven’t been affected by the virus itself. So many have been.
In terms of my writing, however, the drastic cut in my available writing time — I can now write for two hours per day, three or four days per week if I’m lucky — has taken its toll. And, just as significantly, the changes to society have impacted on my writing, too.
For me, all the changes led to a kind of writer’s block
For the first few weeks of the lockdown, I was really struggling to write the kind of stories I was writing before the pandemic hit. I’m not sure about my fellow authors in this genre, but it was increasingly difficult for me to write about things going on within a ‘normal’ society as we understood it before. Things have changed so much — basic life has been transformed. We’re not allowed to go anywhere, we’re not allowed to see anybody.
A couple of weeks ago, the government in the UK confirmed that, basically, according to the movement restrictions of the current lockdown, it was technically illegal to have sex with someone unless you were permanently living with them.
In the UK, the lockdown is in the process of being eased, since thankfully new cases of the Coronavirus have been decreasing each day. But there are still restrictions in place, and will be for many months to come. Perhaps society will get back to a fully normal situation when this virus is finally done, but perhaps not.
For me, all the changes led to a kind of writer’s block. I couldn’t get my head around it. I didn’t want to write stories set in the present day that pretended that everything’s been simply going on as before. And, I have doubts about how society will be once everything settles, so I couldn’t write stories with the assumption that things will get right back to normal some time soon.
Other writers will be different. But for me, there were two solutions. Firstly, to write stories set in specific times, stating specific years for their settings. I could do that, and I have some stories on the way that are set in specific time periods. The second option was to write stories set in the present day in which the pandemic is acknowledged, and the story fits around how society is currently responding to these unprecedented changes.
Unfortunately, my ‘Marriage 2.0’ project is currently on pause, as it is basically a near-future story, and it is reliant on society being relatively settled and at least slightly predictable. The stories I was in the process of writing when the lockdown began have also been shelved for now — including, most frustratingly, ‘Her Secret Life’, which was close to 40,000 words, but involved a plot in which the wife character was using Tinder to meet new people, and all that has ground to a halt in real life.
Fortunately, in recent weeks I have managed to beat my block by writing a story set in the current lockdown. And, I have a few other ideas that I will be trying after that.
My current story is not quite ready yet, but it’s currently clocking in at 67,743 words long, so it’s already full novel-length. I’m hoping it will be finished within a few weeks, and could be out in July. The current title is ‘A Lockdown Affair’, unless a better one comes to me in the next few weeks. It involves a husband whose wife commutes to London and stays there three nights per week. During the lockdown, while he stays at home to take care of the home-schooling of their children, he discovers that she’s been having an affair while staying in London.
Anyway. I know it’s been a long time since I had a new story out, but hopefully this one will be available very soon. And after that, more stories will appear as and when.
As ever, thanks for your support!
Take care, Max. Stay safe, and don’t worry. You’re doing all you can and it’s appreciated.