The world seems to have moved on from Covid. At times, unsettlingly so. We don’t wear masks any more, the use of antibacterial rub is less frequent, and it often seems that people have abandoned any notion of personal space. On the whole it’s a good thing – we’re social animals and living like that isn’t good for us. Quite apart from the illness itself, some people have undoubtedly suffered from the isolation.
At first, I was fine – our son was home, we had a system for shopping for our frail relatives and we have amazing neighbours. And for writers, well, telling us to stay home in our pajamas is pretty much what we’d prefer to do left to our own devices. I was really quite productive through the first few months of lockdowns and restrictions.
But since life regained a degree of normal, I’ve struggled. Not so much with writing itself – that chugs along quite nicely at first. Then I get stuck and fall into a pattern of doubting myself and my abilities (some would say quite rightly!) and before I know it I’m in a pattern of writing, deciding what I’ve written is rubbish, and then deleting it before rewriting, never making any real progress. Or getting 30 or 40k into a novel, deciding it’s terrible and running away from it.
On the one hand I tell myself that I’ve been hopelessly unproductive in the last couple of years. But actually, if I look at it from the point of view of what I’ve achieved, I have four or five half-finished novels to show for that time. Over a hundred and fifty thousand words. And some of them are pretty good, if I say so myself.
In the end, I decided to try something new, a whole new genre, and I started work on a idea that has been brewing at the back of mind for a long time. It’s a romance, set in the Worcestershire countryside where I grew up and it’s full of handsome men, luscious houses, thoroughbred horses and a pair of black swans called Eric and Ernie.
Once again, 35k words in, I had the usual cold feet and started doubting myself. But fortunately, I’m off to the Romantic Novelists Association conference next week and I’m hoping that being around other writers and going to the various workshops will kickstart the novel and that I’ll come back enthused and ready to spend the rest of the summer finishing that crucial first draft.
Wish me luck!