Morning Coffee: What To Do In The Time Of COVID19

SummerWhen talk of shut-downs and quarantines for the coronavirus first began, I thought, “No problem. I’m an introvert who stays inside much of the time anyway. This way there’ll be no pressure to be out and about doing other things.” But I’ve discovered that’s not the case. You see, I like being inside and alone by choice, not because someone has required it.

I made a list of things I could be accomplishing. While this has helped, I’ve certainly been working on the list, it’s not always as much fun as I thought it would be. Here’s my list:

• Do additional research to flesh out my already roughed draft of my next book.
• Write a synopsis of each book in this trilogy so I know where I’m going when I start editing book 1.
• Rewrite Prologue of book 1 to give it more action, make it more engaging.
• Keep blogging!
• Read fiction, not just nonfiction research. It’s a great way to get away without leaving your home.
• Clean the house.
• Stock the pantry, best I can, and cook good meals.
• Go for walks…alone, unfortunately.
• Work on that big x-stitch project.
• Catch up on some Netflix. Again, a good way to get away.
• Call the friends I can’t see to keep in touch and make sure everyone’s all right.

Many things are cancelled. My Weight Watchers meetings have gone virtual. Church is now a weekly email with readings and a sermon attached. My hair is getting shaggy and my roots are showing!

These are trying times and keeping busy isn’t always enough. Depression can set in, even for those of us not prone to such feelings. For this reason, we have to make more of an effort to take care of ourselves. Showering regularly and not putting on the same grungy clothes every morning just because no one’s going to see us is a start. If you look better, you’ll feel better. It’s tempting to eat all the junk food we would normally try to avoid because, again, no one’s going to see us and, hey, these sweat pants still fit. (Wear your jeans now and then to make sure they still fit.) We might be tempted to drink more. Eating a quart of ice cream and polishing off a bottle of wine in your stained sweatpants while binge-watching your new favorite Netflix series in the dark is not a good idea . . . even in the best of times.

That’s why I must emphasize a couple items on my list more than the others. 1) Get outside, whether for a walk or to do yard work, weather permitting. It’s a great way to clear your head of the cobwebs and get a dose of vitamin D. 2) Call your friends, family members, your older community members who may be unable, or too afraid, to go out. Just talking to someone can brighten your day tremendously. You can laugh together at your excitement over finding the elusive toilet paper. (Honest to God, it felt like Christmas!) I talked with a writer friend/editor for over an hour yesterday. We’re putting together a group of us to do one hour of writing sprints at the same time every morning. A couple of us started today. A text tells us when to start and when to stop, then we check in with each other to report our progress. I wrote four pages, just over 1000 words, this morning. I hadn’t written anything new, except blogs, in a couple months as I got my book out, went on a three-week road trip, and then the disruption of the pandemic. I tell you, it felt really good. I know I’m not the only writer who feels her creativity had been suffering with all the routine changes. Not anymore.

And don’t forget your local small businesses that are allowed to be open but are struggling. Order take-out, then walk there to pick it up. And be sure to tip. Especially don’t forget your health care workers and first responders. Maybe that police officer patrolling your neighborhood would like a fill-up on his coffee. A friend of mine said she’s baking cookies to share. Others are sewing face masks and gowns. Stop them (but keep your 6 feet distance) and say thank you. A smile and a wave as they pass by. That might be enough. If you see a truck driver trying to get food but not being allowed to walk up to a drive through, stop and drive through for him. With so much closed, our truckers are struggling to keep the all-important supply chain moving. Helping others can quickly make your own load so much easier to bear.

What are you doing to get through these trying times? You might have an idea someone else never thought of.

Morning Coffee: When I’m Not Writing

20200305_091544What do writers do when they’re not writing? What have I done these past three weeks after the rush of publishing my first novel? I went on vacation.

My husband and I took a road trip…and we both arrived safely home without killing each other. We were gifted one week in a Sedona timeshare so we thought, why not make a road trip out of it? We’ll take our time going south, stopping wherever the interest strikes us. We’ll stop and surprise our pastor and his wife from our time in western New York. (They move to Arizona a couple years after we returned to Wisconsin.) We’ll swing down to Phoenix and take my nephew out to lunch, catch up on his schooling.

We spent the first night in Independence, MO, where we found a fantastic little BBQ roadhouse I swear is only known to the locals. We visited the Truman House, and then the Noland House across the street. (President Truman’s cousin lived there.) We stopped at the Federal Reserve Money Museum hoping they passed out samples. Unfortunately, not. But we did get a free little bag of finally shredded old money.

We were surprised to discover the WWI museum right next door to the Federal Reserve. What an amazing place! We could have easily spent several days there, but had to settle for one afternoon. I was particularly excited because my next book is set in 1918. Two of my three male leads are returning from the war to find their hometown besieged by the Spanish Flu Pandemic. I took many pictures from exhibits and bought two new research books.

On our way to Pueblo, CO, we came across a museum for Fort Wallace, KS. Pueblo turned out to be kind of cold and windy with warnings of snow coming over the mountains. But, in the end, the snow itself did not fall past the peaks and we were able to spend a relatively nice Sunday walking along the historic Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo, stopping to eat at a local brewery. Have you ever heard of a mimosa flight before? I hadn’t, only beer flights, but I thoroughly enjoyed mine.

The next day we wound our way over one of those snowy mountains to check out Golden Sand Dune Park. Ever-changing hills of sand along the base of rocky/snowy peaks. Awesome!

20200305_105636We continued on, staying in Santa Fe, NM, Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, Flagstaff, AZ, before getting to Sedona. We made stops at the Petrified Forest and at the Meteor Crater. We visited a number of museums related to both the indigenous peoples and the pioneers.

Once in Sedona, we spent most of the week hiking (climbing) one beautiful red rock trail after another. When we weren’t hiking, we were enjoying all the different local restaurants. And I didn’t gain a single pound, despite the wonderful meals, desserts, and specialty margaritas!! I guess that whole exercise thing works.

What do writers do when they’re on vacation? They still write. When they’re not writing, they’re thinking about writing, planning what they’re going to write, reading what other authors write. There were some long days in the truck. I caught up on my trade magazines. I wrote four pages of notes planning my next three books, and I reread a favorite classic, “Giants In The Earth”.

So, I guess the answer to my question is, writers are always writing, even when only in their heads. But now I’m home again and the real work starts. My first box of copies has arrived and it’s time to start selling, planning signing events. There’s bookkeeping to set-up in preparation for all the money that’s going to start pouring in…I hope. There’s this blog to write.

And there’s the next book. There’s always the next book.