Coronavirus Writing(less) Blues

Many writers in blogs, podcasts, or YouTubes I follow have noted the mandatory time at home couldprovide an opportunity to create amazing new works. That novel you said you never have time to write: what’s stopping you now? There are no hour-long commutes or busy social schedules to enslave you right now. 

Yet, like so many of my colleagues, I’m finding my fingers trapped in cement shoes, as it were. I cannot muster the brain power to get anything accomplished. At least not at the same rate as before. I start each morning brimming with optimism and watch the hours bleed away with nary a word on the page.

Trying to force things makes them worse. Even reading resources for a client’s blog post is arduous. It seems all I can read are updated articles on covid-19 spread, economic impacts, government responses, and generally other related bad news. What about this train wreck is forcing me to keep watching? I’ve already been told by my full-time employer to expect to be home for months. Note: I am fortunate enough to still have full-time employer and the capacity to work remotely without change in pay. 

As the days wear on, you’d think I’d be growing accustomed to some sort of routine. Yes, each day I seemed shocked to see evening roll around without much progress towards efforts at my day job or other actions I’d assigned myself. My electronic post-it note tallies up more and more unfinished line items. I get more and more annoyed with myself. Just write the damn (fill in the blank) already! 

A common solution for me generally appears with the warmth of sunshine in spring. But, we’re still in March, and April has seen snow showers in Pittsburgh. A friend explained Pittsburgh Marches like this: a tease when they’re warm; you know better though. Don’t let your guard down yet. 

There are signs of spring everywhere outside my windows. To be fair, this year was an incredibly mild winter with few snowstorms and no days dipping into the bitter negative degree zones. I’ve kept waiting for that last snow though… the onion snow. My grandmother grew up on a farm and marked her days – even when she lived in the suburbs – by the changing of seasons and the harvest wheel of the year.

In isolation, it’s a lot easier to use that as my reference point, too. It’s what I see outside my windows. It’s the warm earth I feel cleaning up the remnants of last year’s garden. I smell it in the warming decay I not-too-affectionately call smell of “March mud.” Normally I cannot stand that smell. This year, I almost crave it catch whiffs of it through open windows. Despite the terrifying prospects of a lethal pandemic outside our walls, nature still moves her wheel. Life marches on. 

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