How the Coronavirus Lockdown Damaged My Creative Writing - by Pamela Beason
Since March 13th, I’ve been in my house with only my two cats for company since returning from the ill-fated Left Coast Crime Conference, which was cancelled by the San Diego County Health Department about five hours after it had begun. So, I’m going to copy a clever idea from my compadre Greg Zeigler and interview myself here. Unfortunately, I can’t pull any wool over this interviewer’s eyes. What a weird expression…wonder where that came from?
Beason: Focus on the interview, please. Pam, you have a whole house to yourself. It seems like an ideal situation for a writer. How’s that working out?
Pam: Well, to tell the truth, I’ve been going a little bonkers here in solitary. I normally appreciate living alone so I can vacuum at midnight and dance around in my underwear whenever I feel like it. But I’m used to going out and exercising with water aerobics, getting my cowgirl on in western line dance classes, recharging my creativity with writers’ groups, and having outdoor adventures with my kayaking and hiking clubs. And none of that is happening right now.
Beason: That sounds a bit like whining to me. Doesn’t the lack of distractions make it easier to write?
Pam: Have a little compassion! I do have distractions. After my wonderful tour of Morocco in February, I arrived home to discover my water heater had committed hari-kari in my absence and bled hot water all over my downstairs office and bathroom. A restoration company ripped out all the wallboard and carpeting and bathroom fixtures and dried out the mold that had been accumulating for at least a week, but then the Covid 19 lockdown was announced, so nothing got put back together. My dining room table is now my office. I can’t find anything; all my supplies and books are in unlabeled boxes. And I’ve been laboring on a ghostwriting project, too, so I have been writing, just not the next Sam Westin novel.
Beason: You went on a tour of Morocco? You lucky woman! Do you know how many people had to cancel their vacations this spring?
Pam: Can we stick to the subject? I was trying to explain why I haven’t progressed far in my next novel. I'm glad I'm healthy and so is everyone I know, so far, and I know the social isolation is crucial, but I think this quarantine has somehow fractured my brain.
Beason: But Morocco … well, okay, I’ll put that aside for the moment. You do seem a trifle scattered-brained right now, Pam. Let’s get back to the writing. Haven’t you received email messages from readers asking when the next Sam Westin novel will be published?
Pam: Yes, and I love to get those messages. And today, there’s finally one guy working on my house and I’m 95% done with the ghostwriting, so I am thinking about the next Sam Westin novel. I’ve written a couple of chapters, and I’m making a lot of notes.
Except the weather is beautiful at the moment, so I keep running out of the house to go for a long walk. Solo, of course. My cats are not big hikers. If I’m lucky, I see a human I know and we chat for a few minutes, standing six feet apart, and then I don’t feel quite so much like a leper. Thank goodness I have hundreds of miles of trails and parks nearby, some with gorgeous waterfalls like this one.
Nature keeps me sane.
Beason: And then you go back to writing…
Pam: Uh…did I mention that I’ve changed four faucets in my house, too? And I re-caulked a bathroom! And, I hike 3-5 miles every day. Yesterday I saw a spotted owl!
Beason: But you are writing the next novel?
Pam: Um, yeah. I actually believe I’ve recently had a breakthrough. I’ve been struggling with this story more than usual, and the cats are completely hopeless at brainstorming. But I’ve finally figured out what the problem is. There aren’t enough characters! My fiction has been reflecting my solitary life right now. So, I’m creating more people for my book, even if I can’t associate with more people in my current life.
Beason: It’s about time you got back to writing that novel! Now, about Morocco…
Pam: Just a minute, I have to look up where that weird expression about pulling wool over eyes comes from.