The Year of Covid hasn’t been a disaster for me.
I do realize this is my privilege speaking. We weren’t in danger of losing our income, and I was free to sequester at home for the year (I’m in four different high risk groups, and I kinda wanted to survive). And although we were four adults hunkered together in a home, it’s a big enough house for each of us to have our private space.
So, yeah. I’m privileged. I did what I could to try to help limit the damage for others, but it’s never enough. Especially in Fairbanks. We have a large and visible population of homeless people, and my resources are not enough to fix the problem. But I did try to help as I could.
My family fell into a pattern of using our public spaces at different times. Our two adult children stayed up all night and slept in the day time, and Mars and I kept more traditional hours. We all ate dinner together most nights, which was very nice.
I love (love love LOVE!!!—please insert silly puffy glitter unicorn hearts here) the independent singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke. Her music speaks to me. In fact, soon after I found her, Mars and I both spent an entire summer listening to nothing but Jonatha Brooke.
At some point, I followed her Facebook Page, so when she started doing weekly concerts from her kitchen via Facebook Live, I was sooo there! I missed the first Kitchen Covid Concert, maybe the first two, but I watched all the others live for more than a year (with one exception toward the end when I had to take one of my children to the doctor and had to watch the recording later).
It didn’t feel like a life-changing choice at first. In fact, not for several months.
I spent many weeks rediscovering how much I love doing jigsaw puzzles. Unfortunately, I’d finish the thousand-piece puzzles in a day or two, so I moved to two thousand and then three thousand pieces. That three-thousand-piece one took a couple of weeks. And it was enormous! Bigger than the table I was using, so I had to commandeer the dining table for a while.
Jigsaw puzzles are fun, but it didn’t feel productive. What I wanted to do was write, write fiction, but I was scared. The past ten years or so have been extremely stressful and painful for me, and I stopped writing at some point. To start up again in my 59th year seemed ridiculously optimistic.
Then Jonatha announced a songwriting workshop. A couple of years ago, I took a music theory class in Port Angeles from the inimitable David P. Jones. We had to compose a few pieces of original music for the class, and it whetted my appetite. I don’t see myself becoming a composer or singer-songwriter, but it was definitely fun dabbling in a completely different creative medium.
So I took Jonatha’s class. It was mind-bending. Storytelling in a completely new way. I started taking notes for songs and practicing the guitar. SO. MUCH. FUN!
In August, though, I happened to find notes for a novel idea I’d written four or five years ago. It started as a late night, alcohol-fueled Facebook conversation with a friend whose been my muse more than once. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but we were tossing what-ifs back and forth, and at some point, one of us said, “Wow! This would make a great novel!” So I wrote up the notes, tucked them into a digital folder, and promptly forgot about them.
Fast forward to August 2020: I skimmed the notes and felt the hair on the back of my neck prickle. The story was a dystopian novel based on the increasing polarization between political factions in the US, and my notes were downright prescient, right down to the pandemic.
That’s what I started writing again. I finished the first draft of The Truthspeakers in January. I set it aside to cure and started outlining a memoir. By April 1, when I picked the novel up again, I had the memoir outlined and the first draft about seventy-five percent written.
I have developed some strong work skills, and I find myself getting up every day, eager to start working. I’m excited about both of my current projects and believe each has the potential to make a big splash in the publishing world.
And none of this would have happened if Jonatha Brooke hadn’t shared her heart, her creativity, and her inspiration. She shone a light on my path during a very dark year, and looking back, all I can see is the brightness.
Thank you, Jonatha.