My wife reminded me lately that I once said that if I could have a couple of months of work then I could write another book! Prophetic words. I have not exactly had a couple of months to dedicate to writing another book, I am a key worker, but I have recently had a couple of weeks at home due to changing priorities at work and during that time I have written absolutely nothing!
I am not suffering from writer’s block. I have plenty of ideas. In fact, I even started writing a new novel despite telling myself that I would not commit to such a project so as to give myself more time for marketing endeavours. Although I have tried to sit down and continue this work I found it very difficult to get started again. I just lacked the enthusiasm for it. In response I carried out a review of my idea to see if there was a flaw with it, a problem that was causing me to hesitate, but it was not the story or the plot or the basic idea itself. I realised that my disinclination to write fiction was inspired by the high levels of negativity that have overwhelmed us lately.
On an unconscious level I think that I already knew this. I have been self-isolating from social media. When I researched the science of climate change one of the things that I discovered was that many people have no interest in facts, evidence, theories supported by logic, or even in the idea of having a reasoned discussion. The same held true for the outbreak of Coronavirus. People seem to prefer panic and hysteria to knowledge and understanding. The media have been largely blamed for stoking this almost world-wide distress and I think that it is a fair judgement. Even now, the figures given by various news outlets are centred on the number of people who have died, not those who have recovered. Certainly, there is no attempt at establishing a perspective by using a comparison of figures for the percentages of the population dying from other causes than Covid-19.
Today, my natural optimism reasserted itself. I woke up feeling like I want to write again. My first thought was of my latest story. In truth, it has never been very far from my mind. Even when I was struggling with the negativity I was still thinking of ways to develop the plot, create interesting characters, and all the other things that go into writing a book. It is escapism. Fiction has always been about escapism, but when it comes to doing the actual writing that is as much an escape for me as reading the finished novel is for the reader.
Beyond doing what my day job requires of me it feels like there is very little that I can do about the current situation that the world finds itself in. I am not a medical scientist so I cannot help develop a vaccine. I can, however, avoid feeling helpless in such a situation. I can resist the negativity and immerse myself in something creative, and that is what I plan to do. I doubt that my book will change the world or the current health crisis, but it might serve as a small beacon of hope in someone else’s darkness and that, I think, is a good thing in itself.
Peter C. Whitaker – originally posted here
Peter C. Whitaker is an author and fellow Hull-born writer. Please visit his site and his books are very good.