Fiction in the Time of COVID
By Dave Butler
Following in the footsteps of Pam and Greg, I interviewed myself about what it’s like to be writing fiction at a very strange time in the world’s history. As they discovered, it was the toughest interview I’ve ever done.
Q.) Thanks for joining me today, Dave. I have a few questions for you.
You’re welcome. I was here anyways.
By the way, is this going to take much time?
Q.) Work with me, Dave. During these unprecedented times, do you find it difficult to concentrate?
What? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Could you repeat the question?
Q.) Focus, Dave, focus. Do you find it difficult to concentrate?
No. I still try to use the same process to write each day. That helps maintain the discipline I need to keep going, to keep adding to the word count each day, and to prevent other distractions from pulling me away from the story.
Staying away from social media is equally important. That’s a time-sucking rabbit-hole that’s an enemy of quality writing.
Q.) What’s the most amusing thing that you’ve noticed?
This is an easy one. COVID-hair! While I’ve been on too many ZOOM, MS Teams, and FaceTime calls to count, I’ve found it fascinating – and sometimes horrifying – to see the evolution of hairstyles and facial landscapes as the pandemic has rolled out. Some colleagues appear to be calling from wind-tunnels, their hair wild and out of control, while others seem to have given up all hope of an end to this. That’s sad, and may indicate a deeper set of problems. But then, they are after all writers…
Q.) Are you finding it difficult to balance writing and your day job?
Not so far. But we’re only ten weeks into it (he says with a wink). I find the two to be nice counterbalances to each other, allowing me to exercise different parts of my grey matter every day.
Q.) How many times have people asked you (in particular, other writers…): “I guess you’ve got more time to write now, eh?”
Don’t get me started, Dave. And yes, they are Canadian…
Too many! I had to slap myself the other day when I found myself asking another author the same question.
We’ve all heard that comment: “I always wanted more time to do the things on my to-do list. Now that I have that time, I’ve found that lack of time is not my problem.” Writing is like that…
Q.) Has the current situation influenced your writing in any way?
You mean, aside from the fact that most of the characters in my latest novel are nervous, angst-ridden, fearful and buying more toilet paper and hand sanitizer than they would need for a full-scale zombie apocalypse? No.
Q.) How are you maintaining your sanity in these strange times?
Primarily by spending time with loved ones (at a distance), connecting with family by FaceTime, and by getting outside as much as possible. I have a friend with a new puppy, so we try to get out to walk in open spaces, far away from people. Here in the Rocky Mountain
Trench, it’s not hard to find places to do that.
And at the end of the week, with all my work saved in at least three different places, it’s nice to celebrate with a glass of Writers Tears Irish Whiskey.
Q.) Are you worried about seeing your next book in print?
Great question. For the moment, I’m focused on writing. I can’t really worry about what comes next because I have no control over it other than ensuring my writing is the best it can be.
But from time-to-time, I do wonder how many other authors are doing the same thing as I am, and how many thousands of manuscripts will show up in the in-boxes of agents, editors and publishers once the restrictions are loosened and residents of the literary world come up for air, blinking like mole people in the sunshine.
That, plus the fact that the publishing world will likely look quite different in the future, could be enough to make me take up a new vocation. But telling the story is too important. So, I ignore that hubris and stay in the chair.
Thanks for taking the time today, Dave.
Are you leaving now…?