Earlier this month my writing partner on the Arcadia Chronicles, Kenneth Mader, and I were scheduled for our first signing at the Barnes and Noble in Burbank, CA. Our high hopes for that event were somewhat, but not completely, dashed by the COVID-19 scare. It was all so bizarre experientially. I got on a plane from North Carolina to California on March 11th, using general recommended precautions, washing hands often, using a face mask when dashing through a crowded airport. My flights were comfortable and easy going. On my longer flight from Atlanta into Burbank, I sat with two young women who were off on an adventure together. They had left husbands and kids at home and were ready for some girl fun. We chatted a little, and I recommended a few places to eat such as Pink’s burgers in Hollywood, and what have you.
It was strange, upon landing, to discover how much had changed in the six hours that I had been traveling. It was as if the world had imploded. My sister-in-law picked me up at the airport and told me she had decided to postpone her spring wedding, a most upsetting matter for her, but also the responsible choice, but this was in part because the fears surrounding the spread of this virus had dialed up far more than could have ever been foreseen. Plans we had made to go to San Diego for a day changed, we chose to stay in as much as possible (a situation helped by a series of rainy days) and only dined out a handful of times compared to our usual foodie frenzy when visiting. The signing at Barnes and Noble that Saturday was not totally disappointing. While the store was something of a ghost town, Ken and I saw it as a good practice run in that we had an excellent panel talk with our handful of supportive attendees and wonderful discussions with our co-creators on the project, Debra and Gerald Hopkins. Ken also filmed that talk, and hopefully some sharing will happen soon.
Over the next couple days after, however, tension in the news began to rise even more. The virus was spreading in L.A. County, and that was when we all began to hear the term “social distancing” as a softer alternative to “quarantine”. I thought of those two young ladies on the plane who could not have expected this situation any more than I could have, because I’m sure it put a damper on their plans as well considering that Disneyland and other parks closed and businesses were dialing down how they operated. I hope they made it back home safely and well.
I myself decided to leave a day earlier than planned and came back to North Carolina where I only went back to my job for a couple days. Because of being in a “hot spot” as California became, I have since kept a distance from my mother, whose health is compromised for various reasons, and I’ve got a few more days of that before I’m cleared to actually be in the same room with her (so far, so good, no symptoms other than allergies). As I’ve adhered to the recommendations, like everyone else, there is a level of stir crazy that can go with that, even as we are still allowed to get out and take walks and get fresh air. But with commerce as a whole grinding to a halt and only necessary businesses and emergency services staying open, it is another form of Lovecraft’s fear of the unknown at work here. We have no idea what’s to come in the days ahead for our health and how the economy will recover. That’s far scarier than any Outer God pursuing the hero of Corvus Rex with nefarious intentions or the creepy, slimy ghouls haunting the Realm of the Arcadia Chronicles.
I’ve discovered that willful isolation, even for an introvert such as myself, is more difficult than expected. I still love having experiences, and that is remedied by taking walks, but finally given time to sit down and actually write? I hit a wall. Too much time left my mind too wound up, unable to focus. I have so much I can work on. An interlude novella for Corvus Rex. Book two of Arcadia. Screenplays. Visuals for all of these projects have flitted through my mind and out again, so how to net those muses and sit their flighty butts down for a real creative conversation has been a challenge. Then, suddenly, an answer of a sort came to me in that kind of lightning inspiration that finally sticks and begins to break down writing block walls, and it is not at all what you would think.
For the moment, it is a little surprise, and in the next day or two I’ll reveal this technique and once you see it, I invite anyone to try it for themselves in their own way. You do not even have to be a creative to try this bit. I promise. The beauty of it is that after coming up with this idea, and planning and plotting bits and pieces of it out, the other muses are settling down again and finally seem to be ready to focus.
As they say, whatever it takes. Please stay tuned.