Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!
On Saturday evening I participated in my first Facebook live interview with horror and fantasy indie author A. F. Stewart’s Between The Pages Book Chat. I’m sharing it here so that others can see that even if you are daunted, (terrified) by the idea of speaking live, you can still give it a go. Looking back at the recording there are things I wish I’d said and some I wish I hadn’t said, or repeated as much! It’s funny how we waffle… or I do anyway. Still, if you don’t try, you don’t learn and improve. It’s not perfect but the main thing is I tried. I’m giving myself brownie points for that!
And wondering if I seriously need a haircut! Looking like a lock down woman…
I’ve also been participating in Carrot Ranch Community 5 at the Mic, which is a grand opportunity to share your writing to an audience, in a safe space. You can start by being an audience and then move on to reading your work.
Welcome to Sally Cronin, a huge supporter of the indie writing community. Sally has kindly offered to contribute to my latest writing project: This Is Lockdown.
It’s a compilation of my diaries, short stories, flash fiction, poetry and articles, plus poems and pieces of writing from an array of international writers, authors and bloggers – the ‘Isolation Writers,’ featured on my blog.
She shares her tributes to all those who have kept us safe, educated, fed, and cared for during this crisis, her thoughts on reentering ‘normal’ activities, a poem inspired by our current situation, plus her reflections for the future.
Double Etheree – Silver Lining
I believe there is a silver lining to isolation. A chance to reassess how we effectively use one of life’s great commodities so often wasted and lamented yet measured so accurately each day. Time can be fleeting or last a lifetime and it seems there is little to spare. But during this brief hiatus I have come to understand that clocks do not decide how I use this gift. In the future I will live and love more.
Thanks very much Marjorie for inviting me over to share my thoughts about the recent three months of lock down and the prospect of moving forward.
Firstly, I really want to pay tribute to the health care workers in hospitals, care homes and those who have continued to visit individuals in the community. We tend to forget when we look at their uniforms that they are also grandparents, mums and dads, sisters, brothers and grandchildren, who have the same concerns we all do about what is going on in the home, not just in their place of work.
Also those working on the front-line in supermarkets and pharmacies that have turned up each day, cheerfully, to make sure we have food on the table and medication delivered.
Parents too have been challenged by assuming the roles of teachers as well as playmates for their children in the last three months, and judging by the photographs and captions on social media, with mixed results. Humour thankfully has been sustained over the last 12 weeks, but I do know that many have struggled with the enforced isolation.
What I would like to focus on in this post, is how three groups of our society are going to cope with the next phase of re-entering the outside world.
I notice that there are already articles on how to minimise the impact on our pets, who have enjoyed having their families at home with them all day, and that includes leaving them for small amounts of time to get them used to be alone again. Humans also need help adjusting to the new world we will find when we reconnect with society.
This includes those who have been classified as vulnerable, primary school children and those who have had their treatments for life threatening diseases put on hold for over three months.
Those classified as vulnerable I am officially in the at risk group because of my age rather than underlying health issues, but I must say that having shopped in the designated times, I probably will continue to do so as long as they continue… There do not seem to be many early risers at the moment with schools still shut, so I tend to shop in isolated splendour, rolling up and through the checkout without any delay. I do wear a mask and latex gloves and use hand sanitiser as well. Once home I get in the shower and wash my hair and glasses at the same time… shoes stay outside for the day upside down in sunshine or get wiped over with Dettol. I do think it will be a while before I discard these precautions, however safe they announce it might be.
However, one of the issues identified, is covid-19 phobia amongst many elderly people who have become used to having their groceries delivered, and total absence of outside physical contact with family and friends. We have been informed regularly, that with the lifting of restrictions there could be a second wave of the virus, and that it is highly likely that there will be another lockdown when the winter flu season starts later in the year. It does not exactly inspire confidence when it comes to leaving the house and mixing with strangers again as we used to.
This is reinforced with the continued advice for those over 70 or with a long-term underlying conditions, to remain indoors with medication and food deliveries where possible, indoor exercise or in the garden and minimise time spent outside the home and contact with others.
Services such as day care centres which provide such an important physical interaction with others, and also an opportunity to leave the house, have been shut during the lock down. Unfortunately these will remain closed until social distancing protocols have been put in place. But, many elderly will still be too afraid to take advantage of them. Those with families living close by will I am sure, find it much easier to make steps towards the new form of normal. But, for those who are living alone, it will be far more difficult.
Age UK is still doing great work with personal visits to the home, and outreach programme online and by phone, food shopping and other activities. There is a comprehensive website covering Covid-19 and how they can help should you feel that it might be of help for yourself or for a family member.
Primary School Children Teenagers in the main are used to living their lives online, and whilst they will have felt the restrictions on their movement in the last three months, they will have kept up their previous relationships and pastimes such as gaming as normal. But younger children, who don’t have access to the Internet in the same way, are at risk of missing out on a crucial time of socialisation with others. When they do return to school or start for the first time in September, there will be physical distancing methods in place that are going to severely restrict how they communicate and play with each other. Sitting alone in a square metre in the playground during breaks and in the dining room is not going to help them integrate into a class community.
Teachers are going to be challenged within all age groups, to not just educate, but be the guardians of personal space. And with teenagers that is going to be tough and almost impossible to enforce outside of the classroom. With the younger children there is likely to be a long-term effect on how they interact with others unless their re-integration is carefully managed.
Those with life-threatening health conditions The health service is stretched under normal circumstances, but with the lifting of restrictions on elective surgeries and essential treatments for diseases such as cancers, there are going to be even longer delays for patients. It must have been an extremely stressful time for hundreds of thousands of people, and desperate for parents with children who needed urgent treatment.
They are talking about an 18 months waiting list for elective surgeries but hopefully those requiring life-saving treatment will be at the head of the queue. And perhaps all the private health beds that were paid for, but never used, could be taken advantage of now to speed the process up.
An opportunity for us all. Even though I have worked in the nutritional field for over twenty years, I realised that I needed to take a close look at my own lifestyle and diet and make some changes. I don’t need prescribed medication, but it is easy to slip into bad habits, particular in lock down. The key risk factors that have been identified for a poor outcome from catching Covid-19 are related to obesity, including high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. These conditions are all reversible with changes to diet and lifestyle, and whilst it can be challenging, it may lower our risk of becoming infected as we re-join the community.
Thanks again Marjorie for having me over and sharing my thoughts and poem…
Thank you Sally, it has been a pleasure, sharing your considered thoughts and lovely poem.
Ritu and I have met on several occasions at Blogging Bashes in London and we ‘clicked’ just as much in person as we do in our lovely ‘online,’ friendship.
So welcome Sis! When Ritu knew I was offering fellow writers a chance to join the online discussion about COVID19 – this crazy world we find ourselves in, she jumped at the chance.
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 Ritu coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is Ritu’s answer:
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Unprecendented. Social Distancing. Quarantine. Self-Isolation. Lockdown.
These are all words we have heard countless times in the last few weeks. What have they done? Brought a wave of panic into your life? Or are you someone who has taken to it rather calmly? Well, for me, it’s been a bit like this. When we first heard about this strange virus, schools were still open, yet I had students going off sick with mysterious illnesses for a week to ten days at a time. Then the government called for school closures, followed by social distancing, and the UK version of Lockdown. I say UK version because, though all non-essential businesses have been closed, we are still allowed out to exercise once a day, go shopping for food, and schools still need us teachers, but in a different capacity; as carers for the children of Keyworkers.
Once I got over the initial worry and shock of what was happening, I got excited. This meant more time for me to get creative, when I was home. Book two has been started but had been languishing for a couple of months, as the business of daily life took its toll. But, just because you have time, doesn’t mean you automatically switch to the creator of four thousand words a day – well, that doesn’t happen to me, anyway. My creativity has been hit-and-miss to be honest. I thought all this time would mean I could write, do some courses I signed up for but never got a chance to access, more promotion, lots of reading…
The reality has been quite different.
To start with, I am in school on a rota system, so I could be in for one or two days, but I don’t know more than a week in advance. And there is the joy of having both kids and Hubby Dearest at home as well, so no time was distraction-free time either.
I sit with my laptop open on one of my home days, WIP loaded up, ready to write up a storm. Nothing comes. I open a book to read. But I can’t get into it and put it down after a few pages. Then I remember those courses. So, I manage another couple of modules on a creative writing course. But no words. After the first ten days, we were in official Easter holiday mode. Technically no different to the last few days, but I felt, mentally, that I was on a break. I discovered online writing sprints on several Facebook groups that helped, and in a few days, I did double my wordcount.
The joy to read came back.
But then official term started again.
And I have now got online learning to do for school too, to justify us all being at home, even though we are still planning work for our children to do at home. As well as still needing to go in periodically.
Another killjoy to my writing spree.
I’m trying to be practical still have work, but I need my play too, which involves reading and writing. So, I have taken time to re-plan and structure my WIP, and while doing that, I have got my juices flowing, again, I think. My aim is to do school-based work in the mornings and use after lunch time to look at my creative projects, be it writing, courses or research for the WIP. The evening is filled with family time, walks, cooking, reading, watching films and TV, and if I feel inspired, a little more writing time. I’m under no illusions. At one point I thought I would end this period with a mainly finished first draft, but I don’t think that will happen. I’ve had up days, days where I have felt productive in all areas of my quiet life, then there have been days where I have barely wanted to leave my bed.
Those days are the days that suck my creative well dry. The days I watch the news and the world gives me nothing to be hopeful about. The days I had that call or message to say a loved one was ill, or had passed away (twice, so far). Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing. I’ll keep trying to write, but I won’t beat myself up if nothing comes. These are crazy times. Messing with our heads. If I can’t write my own words, I’ll read others. I’ll teach myself new things to make my words, when they do come, better.
But I won’t stop trying to write.
(Oh, and I discovered TikTok! Heaven help us all!)
Author Bio Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
Here’s my entry – I didn’t win… I got the fury but forgot the sound effects! Lol.
How’s your day been?’ ‘Exhausting, but exhilarating. I saved a young man’s life today. And you?’ ‘Boring, I hate being a butcher.’ ‘Your meat’s the best!’
My identical twin sister is an eminent brain surgeon. I dream of her delicate hands working their masterful magic.
I raised the scalpel in a fury of sibling rivalry. My eyes twitched, but no one questioned my power to play God or to ruin my sister’s reputation as a top surgeon. My hands shook, until I sliced. I smiled, she’d be so proud. Blood pounded in my head as bright, red blood spurted.
I’m a sponsor of Carrot Ranch – a wonderful community of flash fiction writers.
I’m a contributing author in the Plaisted Publishing House Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with my short story Ghostly Goodbye.
Ghostly Goodbye by M J Mallon
Ghostly Goodbye is a paranormal love story about a young woman called Iris who can’t get over her husband’s death. She is mourning him so much that she feels dead inside. Her husband Ed sends her a ghostly message from beyond the grave via an old forgotten garment in her wardrobe. She responds by dragging herself from her tomb-like bed and he draws back the curtain of death to visit her in a most unusual way.
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