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So here’s a good confluence of various interests.

For a while I’ve felt I needed to write here about the pandemic, because … well, all the feels, and it is the defining factor in everything at the moment. I haven’t talked about it in my public writing because I’ve been busy addressing it in my living, and some days that has taken all my energy.

In fact I have written about it in my journal, but that’s entirely for my own consumption so it feels rather like processing my own thoughts rather than expressing them for others. Of course, that is the whole point of the journal, but the connection there is only with myself, not with anyone else. Sometimes writers need to connect with their audience; otherwise, what’s the point?

I have wanted to write about COVID publically because not doing so felt a bit like trundling along absorbing all the woe but not expressing any of it. At the same time, there was so much woe being expressed by everyone else that I couldn’t really see how mine would contribute, or offer anything that hadn’t already been said. So I struggled with this post – it’s been on my list for weeks, since well before Lockdown 2.0, but I couldn’t seem to start it.

And then this morning, I took a journaling prompt from Margret Geraghty’s excellent book The Five-Minute Writer, which I’m working through in my journaling at the moment. The prompt talked about lemon moments – those times when the universe hands you an absolute stinker of a situation, and you have to choose whether to let it ruin your afternoon (day/week/year) or turn it around and find an opportunity or something positive. This is a well-known technique in positive psychology, and it can be a useful thought exercise for a writer who is stuck for where to go next.

And when I opened my journal to think and write about a lemon of my own, I couldn’t get away from the realisation that 2020 has been possibly the biggest, fattest, most tongue-scrunching lemon in history.

Now, I do realise that chirping about finding the positives during a pandemic may not be appropriate reading for anyone who has suffered deep and irreparable loss or damage over the last few months – and if that’s you, I’m so sorry, I wish you love and peace and strength on your journey, and would urge you perhaps to stop here. Take my best wishes for your recovery, and don’t read any further.

If you’re still here – I do recognise that my passage through this awful time has been much easier than that of many others, and I am thankful for that. I have grieved and been furious and felt helpless and fearful, but I have also found moments of light and things to celebrate, at a personal level (because hey, it’s all personal, and sometimes that’s the only thing it is). To whit:

  • I got to spend six months with my children. They are young adults who in normal times would be moving out from home, spreading their wings and leaving myself and their dad behind. It was weird for all of us having them at home for such an extended period, but it was also blissful and calming and safe.
    We did some great stuff together – games, films, meals, celebrations, local walks, Zooms with distant family, daft stuff like a Bob Ross paintalong – and we supported each other. This was so valuable, and I feel blessed that I got to know my kids not merely as dependents, but as friends, and as the funny, kind, clever, generous young adults they are.
  • I had the time to focus on my business. Thankfully my work did not drop off; in fact it increased (everyone locked down at home, off work and churning out words is great for freelance editors, turns out), which meant I needed to think about how I could extend myself without burning out. I have had some thoughts on this, and I have found a new direction that I want to pursue.
  • I am writing fiction again, after a hiatus of a couple of years, and it feels good. Part of this came from the business refocus, but part of it, I think, was to do with the need to imagine myself elsewhere when I couldn’t be elsewhere in person.
  • I have baked bread, grown vegetables, and done a load of knitting. (But hasn’t everyone?)
  • I have run, a lot.
  • I have discovered a whole new world of online training and events. Seriously, why couldn’t these have been available when I was starting out as a freelancer?

There are other things, but these are the ones I churned out during my writing exercise this morning. And I think, as positives go, they’ll do.

Are there any positives that you can take from the shitshow that has been 2020? I honestly and genuinely hope so. Let me know.