I will tell you a secret: the release date I had in mind for Children of the Gods was May 28. I have booked my editor for the final pass at the end of March/beginning of April, the proofreader – first two weeks of April, I have planned to send the ARCs (advanced review copies) to reviewers around April 15-20. I even said the words of doom: “for once, I have realistic deadlines and nothing can go wrong”.
Then 2020 happened and honestly, I have not predicted that when I was setting my totes realistic deadlines.
I am writing this on May 6 [and 7 – Ed.]. I haven’t even finished chapter six (out of ten) yet. Yesterday I thought I was finished, then, a few hours later I re-read what I had written and, uh, it’s not finished. My editor has chapters 1-4. My proofreader, who is an angel, forgave me for not having sent her anything but apologies at the beginning of April. Or May. The banner on my Facebook page says ‘summer 2020’, because September 20 is still summer and I’m trying to think positive.
In the last few days some of the people I know started displaying worrying symptoms. One of them said that it felt selfish to go to a grocery store to buy wine. Another felt horrible for eating sweets all on her own. A few haven’t exercised for a week or taken a shower for three days. This makes them believe that they are practically evil. I told them not to be silly, but I’m all talk and no action – I’ve been feeling horrible about not writing fast enough, so I’ve been forcing myself to work more and faster, so now I can’t write at all. My body and brain refuse to cooperate. Every day I must nap at random times, because my mind just switches off and all I can do is scroll Twitter and click little hearts. I go to bed fully dressed, hide under a duvet and a weighted blanket, and shiver from the cold. Apparently this is normal during endless exposure to stress and anxiety that can’t be lessened by taking a holiday, because taking holidays is currently on the list of things that are even less likely to happen than me winning the lottery.
This is not normal. Life is not normal. World is not normal.
Various people deal with the *gestures vaguely* in various ways. Those who insisted that they loved having this spare time to spend with their precious moppets, do yoga at sunrise together while listening to meditation tapes, then prepare healthy meals while simultaneously homeschooling their children and listening to motivational podcasts seem to have become a wee bit quieter recently. Some of them now feel like awful, horrible people because they truly believed they would learn Chinese and achieve six-pack abs by eating toilet paper salads.
Others are in full denial, from the crowds gathering on the beach to prove that there are no crowds gathering on the beach, to my neighbours, who organised a lovely coronaparty for seven and didn’t understand why we (or the police) didn’t like that. Or Madonna doing whatever it is that Madonna is doing. Or… oh, you know. I can’t say I approve, but I get it. You can either let all this get to you and try to deal with it, or not let it get to you and be this meme.
It is not fine.
A friend of mine lost all his income within a few weeks. All of it. He’s a freelancer working for the exact sort of businesses that just, um, went out of business. Another friend owns a tiny, gorgeous, wonderful five-star bed and breakfast in the south of France. Guess how his budget for this year is looking? Yet another owns a restaurant…
My husband works at a nursing home. So far five people died there. One of his colleagues has gone through the illness and, luckily, recovered. Another one apparently just tested positive. My husband will go to work again this weekend.
I know four people who lost family members, including two whose mothers died within three days from each other.
Two of our friends went through the illness and recovered. One didn’t do too bad (meaning that he didn’t need to be in intensive care at all), one spent over a week in the state where it really wasn’t certain what the outcome would be. Technically she’s still recovering, but now it’s just “I can’t say I feel well” rather than, you know.
The fact that I understand why people demand their haircuts and crowded beaches, or organise coronaparties (I think they have different names for them, something like “just a BBQ with some friends”) does not mean that I don’t want to punch them in the throat. My therapist, whom I can’t visit because *gestures vaguely*, told me that where I have or had thirteen people around, some of whom died and some didn’t, she doesn’t even know anyone who knows anyone. She is still stressed out, because her work has never been supposed to be sitting at home and sending emails, or doing video chats, but she is stressed out in different ways. She does not push for Her Fredumm For Hercuts, because she’s intelligent enough to understand how viruses spread. As for our coronaparty neighbours, the tallest wooden fence we can legally install should be delivered tomorrow, because what else can we do? Ask them politely to keep the virus on their side of the fence we currently have?
I was going to see my Mum and my brothers in four weeks, well, I won’t. I have no idea when I will see them at all. My Mum had massive life-saving surgery a few weeks ago, important enough that it was done despite the *gestures vaguely*. She’s in high risk group, to put it mildly. I don’t even feel afraid. Mostly numb, exhausted, cold. I sleep 10 hours a day, I can’t work (I can feel horrible about not working, though), I hardly ever leave the house, I can’t read books, I can’t watch movies or TV (even that bonus episode of Tiger King remains untouched). I play Toon Blast on my phone and listen to the same playlists over and over again. I eat a lot of mini Snickers bars.
I am not saying that you are only allowed to eat ice cream if you know 5+ or more people with the virus and your Mum just had massive surgery, because I just know some of you just decided to feel guilty about not having it bad enough. What I am trying to say is that this is not life as we know it and right now we have to survive until we figure out what the new normal will be. Because, no matter how hard politicians and CEOs are trying to convince you, the old normal is never coming back.
My hair’s longer now. I’m trying to re-grow what I call a Ragnar, so this is good. Nobody ever sees me, so there’s a chance I’ll get through the awkward too-long-to-be-short, too-short-to-be-long period safely.
I sometimes work out, partly because my spine injuries are very unhappy when I don’t. Therefore, the home gym gets some action. (The treadmill does not.) I reduced the amount of painkillers I take to less than half of the prescribed dose. I consider myself the God of sport and health, because I haven’t had pizza for at least two weeks. This might be related to me running out of trousers that I could squeeze my waist into. Instead of buying more new stuff I simply switched to always wearing my sweatpants. I am saving the environment, although perhaps not the economy. Am the pinnacle of, uh, environment-saving.
I bought less things online than I wanted
except for books. I did not punch anybody in the throat, which might or might not be because of social distancing and my arms being too short, but still. This makes me a good, loving person filled with kindness. And modesty.
We haven’t bought any more toilet paper than we actually need.
I binge-watched Tiger King, which means that I, for once, understand cultural references without a three-year delay, but I didn’t inhale. It was the only TV thing… stuff that I have watched this year and no, I don’t know why either. Anyway, I am now a cultured person.
I sometimes don’t refresh the coronanews for half an hour or even longer.
I call my Mum more often than I used to. Just to, you know, see her and hear her, even if we have nothing to say to each other really. It’s funny (it isn’t funny at all) how when I thought I was going to see her in June I didn’t feel like that. I say “I love you” even more than I used to.
I am up to level 897 on Toon Blast. You must admit that’s impressive.
At no point did I organise a coronaparty, cough at someone on purpose (or even not on purpose), touched things without need, or even shaken hands with anybody but my husband. (How do people manage to focus on learning cakes, baking yogas, and getting ripped, ignoring the fact that hugging and handshakes might kill their loved ones is beyond me.)
When I shout-tweeted at a Certain Important Blogger who said that we, writers have a “duty to write, write, write in this important period” I deleted it on the very same day, although the Certain Important Blogger still needs to become BFFs with Gwyneth Paltrow and produce a series of vaginal jade typewriters.
Don’t get me wrong – I would love to emerge from the quarantine/lockdown/whatever *gestures vaguely* even is speaking fluent Old Norse, ripped, with a degree in philosophy and four completed novels. I totally wish I could post pictures of the new dishes I made and cakes I baked on Instagram. I would also love to start using Instagram for anything but stalking hot bearded guys and looking at photos of Iceland. I really like the idea of being the person who jumps out of bed every morning, excited to seize the day, takes a shower, puts on a clothe, cleans the house from top to bottom or from bottom to top depending on which Blursday it is, then spends eight hours being productive before moving on to homeschooling their four kids of different ages (my respect for the parents who actually manage to homeschool any number of children of any ages every day and without resorting to day-drinking is ENDLESS). I just have the feeling that those people don’t actually exist – they may have in March, but by now they, too, plop themselves on the sofa with yesterday’s pizza in one hand, boxed wine in the other, then watch re-runs of Drag Race before posting last year’s photos on their Insta with hashtags such as #motivatedinquarantine #soblessed #preciousmoppets #ripped #learningjapaneseisfun #yogayogayoga.
Y’all. I would very much love to catch up on reading, but my brain won’t into sentences. I am actually really super motivated to finish my book, but I’m tired. This blog post is hardly my biggest achievement ever and it still took me two days to finish and in the meantime I napped for 2.5 hours, not counting eight hours of actual sleep, and I did not have any choice on the napping, because my brain just decided this was what we were going to do.
Let’s face it, EVERYTHING ABOVE THE NECK IS KAPUTT.
I get out of bed every day at some point. I put on a clothe (because it’s cold, but still). I feed Gareth the Cat. I have not named the cat X Æ SR-12. I don’t get into troll wars on Twitter. Every now and then I think of reading a book, and maybe I don’t do that, but it’s the thought that counts.
So my novel is not finished, my language knowledge got less impressive rather than more (although I can still order coffee in Icelandic), I should probably wash this sweater at some point, and maybe I didn’t really need to buy four more books. But I’m alive. And for non-billionaires this is really not a given right now.
Now go eat your ice cream for breakfast, then exercise by going to get your wine (maybe not for breakfast), and wait with that whole feeling guilty thing until it’s possible to hug each other without wearing a complete hazmat suit.
Picture above: Gareth the Cat, because duh.