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Has the pandemic affected your writing? If so, how? Have your writing habits changed in reaction to the ‘different’ world we are faced with?
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Let’s just say, it was a good thing I planned on this being a lean time due to raising an infant who has grown into a busy toddler. My writing hasn’t even noticed the pandemic. Had I not planned ahead, or been in this position of motherhood, I would not have been so prepared. And, this planning was years in the making.
Let me start out by oversharing…
When I decided to have my daughter through IVF, the decision underwent consideration for years prior. To understand what went into it, you have to understand where I was coming from. As a demisexual with anxiety and depression, the dating world posed quite a difficulty to me. I tried. Dating sites are just not how I can meet people. This modern world makes it very difficult for those who also introvert–like impossible.
Despite everything I have going for me, everything was against me. But, that worked out just fine. I’m the happiest I have ever been, because I have been true to myself, and I have the main goal of my life at my side: my baby girl. She’s a gift and a blessing.
Although it’s all sunshine and rainbows, it is also a lot of work! I knew that going in, because I paid attention to friends who had children. Helping my grandmother with my cousin also taught me valuable lessons. My uncle’s boy (another cousin) taught me still more valuable lessons, when it wasn’t making me question ever wanting children. These things I carried forward with me, so when my turn came, I was knew what had to be done.
What had to be done…
If I ever wanted to continue my writing career, I had to make sure I carved out time. In lieu of time, which you inevitably find out you don’t have enough of, you plan ahead. Before IVF, that plan went into motion. I wrote my trilogy and carefully planned to space out the publication of each installment. The project would not get rushed. Understanding that was wise. I also completed the sequel to OP-DEC shortly after finishing my master’s degree. That I did not plan on finishing until the other books were published.
The plan was to put the books out every two years. With editing, design, and marketing, that has gotten extended a bit on the final book. Editors change, publishing avenues changed (my publisher shuttered), and design time varies. Once the product is complete, the marketing plan begins, and so the time stretches. I find myself with a daughter at age 3, growing more self-sufficient by the day, and that means more writing time for me.
And that is excellent! I’m on the cusp of publishing the third book in the trilogy, while sitting on one more book in the queue. Though my daughter needs a lot of attention still at this stage, I do find that I can sit with my laptop again. I also find increasing intervals of having some time.
The pandemic has created a bizarre work structure in the middle of all of this, too. Without a commute to the day-job, I have that time to do some of my responsibilities, which frees up more time elsewhere. Certainly my kiddo does occupy most of that newly freed time–what with laundry, potty training, feeding, playing, and cleaning…
Essentially, not much has changed. I am just occupying myself in a far more limited setting. Switching from the job to writing is like getting up and walking around the chair to put on another hat. The commute that used to carve a separation is now me dropping off or picking up my child from daycare, and that’s not much time at all. Prior to this, I had to walk twenty minutes or take a shuttle to the parking lot, then drive another twenty minutes if traffic was clear to get to daycare, and then drive another ten to fifteen minutes home (the reverse for coming into work). Every. Day.
That was a lot! Burned out doesn’t describe it. After all that, I barely wanted to do a thing when I got home and starting my mornings was a slog. And, this is with loving what I do! Imagine going through this hating your job.
The pandemic is terrible. Easily I could slide into the dark on this, as my anxiety and depression would really love me to do. However, I have trained myself to look for all the positives. Trust me that is not an easy thing to learn to do when you suffer from depression or anxiety, let alone both!
Firstly, I don’t have that slog of a commute either way any day. I do have to get my daughter up and out to daycare, which can be a game of wits and wills, but it helps me get ready to get going and have a sense of normalcy. At home, I can take advantage of my ‘office space’ set up the way I like it. No one is there micromanaging me. There are no interruptions or intrusions like you have in an office setting. I don’t have to walk miles to go to the restroom, or wash a cup. There’s no catching colds either! My cubicle buddy is my dog, something for which I always wished.
If my daughter needs to stay home, she has built in care, and I don’t have to worry about coordinating with someone to watch her. Her days off are much easier to manage. If I have a day off, I often still take her to daycare and use the time to catch up on the to-do-list. This is also a great way to get some writing done.
What’s the takeaway?
The pandemic is changing the way we work all around the world. Many businesses are permanently changing to work from home. I believe it is the way we will conduct ourselves in the future. We may do some mixture of in office and at home, but the majority will just be home. That change has come to my office unofficially. This could save corporations and public entities a lot of money, and prove to be a boon for worker health. The work/life balance, I am finding, is much easier to meet in this form.
So many have suffered and COVID-19 has changed the lives of billions permanently. I cannot imagine that it has not affected the way we move forward from here. No doubt, I am just on the cusp of discovering what that will mean for my writing. For now, I am prepared. Writing continues as if nothing has changed, while the other half of my work life has changed completely.
Once OP-GHO is published, I have a plan for what comes next, but that is a hop for another time. Click on the links below to see what the other authors said in response to this question…