How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Alice May coping with this enforced isolation?
This is her answer:
Opening the Door of ‘The House That Sat Down’
Many thanks to Marje for giving me the opportunity to open the door on The House That Sat Down and show what is happening to one author, in a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the Dorset/Hampshire border during coronavirus lockdown.
Our cottage looks as idyllically chocolate-box perfect as it ever did – before it collapsed six years ago and needed rebuilding, that is – but that doesn’t mean that life is any easier inside for us than it is for anyone else at this challenging time. (A quick contextual update for those who have not read The House That Sat Down Trilogy, our house fell down out of the blue one day in 2014 and was painfully rebuilt over a traumatic period of time, which involved living in a tent in the garden; my husband, myself and four children. This period in my life led me to write my first award-winning novel.)
On a superficial level, the main change to my daily routine that I thought social lockdown would bring hasn’t materialised. I naively expected that ‘a bit more time at home’ would enable me to finish editing my latest book. The opposite has – in fact – proven to be the case and I am reminded that nothing is ever quite what we might expect.
Like many, I am attempting to nurture my family through their dramatically altered lives; a role which requires huge amounts of diplomacy which has never been one of my strong points. But, from a writing career perspective, I initially found myself paralysed by an overwhelming sense of loss.
My original – pre-Covid19 – schedule for April was chock full of exciting entries. There were multiple speaking events, radio interviews, literary festivals, book signings and even a trip to London to pitch my new book to publishers. It took months to set everything up, but only hours to come crashing down. My new, very empty April stretched before me and mental tumbleweed rolled around inside my brain as I found myself struggling to process the change without dissolving into tears.
With the world so very different, it seemed that the previous twelve months spent writing book 5 had been a colossal waste of time. How could that work still be relevant? I found myself unable to write at all and that worried me.
Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. I have always used painting as a way to express my emotions, it was a massively important part of my recovery from post-traumatic-stress after my house fell down. Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in my reliance on throwing paint around to make myself feel better.
My fabulous PR guru @jane_dean_pr suggested that I put a couple of free art tutorials on my YouTube channel (Alice May Artist https://youtu.be/p6bHYY4xPl0 ).
If I am completely honest, I think she was trying to get me to stop pestering her with questions about what I ought to do.
Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea and has led to some exciting developments which proves that you never know when opportunity will come knocking. Uploading that first video was the start of a whole new dimension to my creative career. Three weeks and nearly twenty tutorials later, there has been a surge in the number of subscribers to my channel, countless visits to my website (www.alicemay.weebly.com) and an unanticipated increase in book sales. Plus, I’ve had some wonderful feedback via email, twitter and Facebook.
I was interviewed for an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine which was very exciting followed by a lovely chat with Louise Hanna on BBC Radio Solent, which in turn has led to me being invited to deliver paid presentations and art demonstrations on-line to social groups gathering on Zoom. Who knew that such a thing was even wanted, let alone possible?
There has even been a suggestion that I might like to start running proper art classes after lockdown is lifted, which is definitely something to think about.
My empty diary is now stuffed full of new activities; none of which I could have predicted before lockdown, but all of which I am thoroughly enjoying. Which only goes to show that you can never predict what is just around the corner.
Anything is possible.
Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.
Alice May Artist, Author, Speaker
You Tube: Alice May Artist
Thank you so much to Alice for being my guest. I never imagined that such a thing would happen. Poor Alice, can you imagine your house falling down with all its belongings, and memories reduced to rubble?
And now this COVID19. How resilient and inspiring she is. I am so glad I started this series. It has introduced me to so many amazing writers and creatives.
Stay safe and well everyone.
Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon Collaborative Group: https://www.facebook.com/pg/5SpiritualSisters/
What a great new outlet for creativity! And it sounds like it’s taking your career in a new direction.
Hi Sharon, yes, an unexpected bonus in these trying times. Plus, it’s tremendous fun too. 🙂 x