Quarantine Update

A month has zipped by since I last posted, and while many in my writer circles have suffered creative blocks due to the stress around us, I have managed to dig in, simultaneously attacking 3 different projects. I may be the only one in the world right now wishing for more hours each day! The best part is that I hope to have an announcement about one of them very soon!

Here in Michigan, we are in one of the worst areas for COVID-19, with the peak on April 3rd almost reaching 2,000 new cases in 24 hours. We have been trending down since then, with only 576 reported yesterday. In our county alone, overall there have been over 4,000 cases with more than 400 deaths so far.

Watching friends suffer through the disease has been heartbreaking. We have been able to stay in our home and backyard for all, but trips to the grocery store. And even then, we don masks and gloves like most everyone we see now.

My husband has a job that does not translate to remote work, and has had a temporary pay cut while we wait for it to be safe for him to return. This has been a stress and a blessing as it has allowed me to focus on my work while he shares the weight of food preparation and the kids’ online schooling.

The world is on pause. Nobody knows what to expect in the coming weeks and months. Some say even years. We all hope and pray for healing. Meanwhile we adapt and learn and draw closer than we’ve ever been before. With trials come humility, compassion and unity.

A Little Detour

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the word “pandemic” is almost unreal, the stuff of the distant past or post-apocalyptic novels. And although real pandemics are sprinkled throughout history with a macabre regularity, even the more recent outbreak of H1N1 with over 12,000 U.S. deaths in the first year did nothing to prepare us for COVID-19.

The fact that one little microscopic organism can shut down so many parts of the world in such a short amount of time is astonishing. None of us could have imagined that this common fictional disaster would become our reality.

We utter new phrases like ‘social distancing’ and ‘flatten the curve” on a daily basis without batting an eye. And even though our life has radically changed with fear and illness and unemployment, technology is softening the edges. A large percentage of people can continue to work from home, and although our children’s schools are closed, they are developing new distance learning skills and continuing their educations. The best part is we don’t have to wallow in isolation. We can connect with friends and family through social media, FaceTime and video conferencing.

The writer’s community is thriving online as well with online critique groups, webinars and virtual conferences. Just before the outbreak arrived in Michigan, I attended a one day Children’s Non-fiction Writing Conference in person. Hand sanitizer and elbow bumping was prevalent, but in a way it seemed excessive. I obviously didn’t realize at the time how dire COVID-19 was, and how our lives would be changing.

The conference was fantastic and opened up a whole new avenue of writing for me. Who knew that children’s non-fiction wasn’t boring anymore! 🙂 My mind was opened to all the super creative ways information can be presented.

Life right now in lockdown mode is simpler and fuller. I love having everyone home*, and while I have continued editing my MG** sci-fi novel, this week I have taken a slight detour to try my hand at drafting a MG non-fiction book. And I’m having a blast!

I feel a bit guilty enjoying social distancing as much as I am. But you have to understand. I have six kids at home right now, and so the logistics are always tricky. Our new daily life means no shuttling kids around, never a lack of workout partners, many hands for food prep and household chores, and we have plenty of people to play board games or basketball or stage an epic laser gun battle. Stocking up on food and toilet paper is common practice around here, so that hasn’t been a stress either. With my creativity having a good romp on my newest detour, my routine couldn’t be better. I really think it will be hard to go back to “regular” life.

Now I know this may come across ignorant, like I have blinders on. I get that COVID-19 is real and scary, and that brave people all over the world are out fighting it. I’m incredibly grateful for their dedication and sacrifice. My youngest child has T1D, and it would be a nightmare if he were to contract this virus. But there’s no reason to focus on what might happen, when there is so much to be grateful for now.

*Except my college daughter, whom we miss! She’s hunkered down with Grandma right now.

**Just a reminder: MG stands for Middle Grade, which is the target audience of ages 8-13.