I remember a time when writing was easier.
Note that I didn’t say easy. Writing fiction isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is doing something wrong, at least in my opinion. Juggling characters, settings, plot lines, conflicts, and world building makes untangling yarn seem simple, yet writing is a process that’s complicated by interruptions and life events. Take for example the pandemic.
For many, the pandemic’s over, but for those of us high risk and suffering from long COVID, it’s a part of our everyday existence. Since the beginning of COVID, I’ve been infected three times that I know of, and each time, the damage to my body has worsened. When I say that I remember when writing was easier, I mean it.
I used to write lengthy epic fantasy with ease. I could keep all the character and plot arcs straight (with the help of my notes) and knock out a good four or five thousand words in a day. I was known by my editors as writing “tight,” meaning that my work was fairly good the first time through the gate and it didn’t need as much editing as many other works did, but all of that changed with the pandemic.
For the second time, I’ve recently had someone reading one of my stories come back with the phrase, “This isn’t up to your usual standards. It’s good, but it needs work.” I’ve had editors and early readers comment that some portion is unclear or needs more description.
Me—someone known for great detail and development—needs more? Shit.
Examples are given on ways I could clean the story up, but the examples knock me off my feet. They’re examples I used to think of to help others, writing I used to be capable of before brain fog settled over me like an itchy, smelly blanket.
These days, my ability to focus for long periods of time is shot to hell. It’s slowly improving but some days are better than others. When my week is interrupted by juggling various medical appointments for myself and my partner (who also has long COVID), that focus is gone. Poof!
On Monday, I had a two-hour medical appointment to determine what types of autonomic dysfunctions I have due to COVID. The testing was painful and while it was in the morning, it left me useless for the rest of my day. I have three more medical appointments this week and two next week. In order to try and get me back to functioning, my cup runneth over with medical appointments. Part of having ADHD means that my executive function is zilch when I have that many interruptions.
So when people ask me where x book is and why it’s taking so long, I can’t help but wince. Yet another thing COVID has taken from me—my ability to work and work well.
All I ask is that you be kind to the artists and creatives in your life. Hell, be nice to everyone. This pandemic leaves no one unscathed, no matter how much they believe otherwise.
If we’re not losing people, we’re losing brain cells. Or sanity. Or connections. Or the ability to finish a damn book on time, a book with beautiful descriptions if only our brain would remember the how.
And with that, it’s time to go back to writing.
P.S. I am learning to be kind to myself. I’ve never really been good at it as I tend to save my kindness for others, but I’m working on it. I promise. <3