Covid impact on writing (or is it my scape goat?)

As the planet shuts down and we are all expected to spend our time at home, I find myself on the edge of uncharted territory. I now have no excuses not to write.

So, to start my tale let me back up to the beginning. Growing up I always had a story to tell. I gravitated towards role-playing games, due to the lore and story telling aspects of the games. I was an early adopter of Dungeon’s and Dragons. Fell in love with all of the characters in any fantasy book, comic, or old tale I could find. In college my english professor (herself a published author on Oprah’s book club list and having multiple movies made of her work) suggested that she saw something in the way I wrote for her that made her believe I should change to being a creative writing major. (I did change, but only for a semester. I loved writing, but didn’t enjoy all of the detailed analysis that went into the rest of an english based degree).

Fast forward through the years and I find myself in IT management, currently focused on information security, and still spending as much free time as I am able participating in fantasy realms. MMOs and books became my drugs of choice, providing escapism from the everyday world.

Or so I thought. The call to be a consumer of fantasy realms turned out to be less of an escape for me from the external world and more a call for the stories inside of me to escape my internal world. In a nutshell, I have been spending most of my adult life running from the part of me that screams for recognition.

I first became reacquainted with the existing need to express myself in some way when my daughter, during her senior year in high school, let me know she really wanted to study marketing and creative writing in college. I had been trying to get her to consider a career in technology, same as her old man, because she has such a wonderful analytical mind. I thought for sure she would be an amazing database administrator or something down that career path. The more we talked about it and the more I helped her flush out possible career paths, so she had a paycheck while working on her next novel, the more story ideas presented themselves in my mind.

During this process I wrote a short story and self-published on Amazon. Mostly I wanted to learn the process for getting a book into the Kindle market place. Very few people read my story, that I can tell, but the (limited) feedback I got was supportive. I also opened myself up to do some free editing and proof reading for published authors (I don’t name drop) and gaming companies publishing new products. I wanted to learn more about the process, while sitting back waiting on my book to take off and find an audience. SPOILER: It didn’t.

Somewhere along the way real life came along and gave me reason to focus on something else. I decided it was time to go back to school, so I started my MBA program. The past two years I have been working on my day job and any spare time I get has been directed towards school and my family, sadly in that order. I finally completed my schooling four years ago, as of the time of this post. After that I focused on getting a (required) industry certification needed to keep my job. I earned this certification a few weeks ago, and am not focused on renewing my primary cert needed to do my job.

So much life getting in the way of my writing and yet I can still hear the whisper in the back of my mind. It is growing and becoming stronger daily. Partly due to it knowing an end is near for the mostly self instigated distractions. Mostly due to the distractions being self instigated to begin with, as I found reasons not to write – possibly due to the lack of external praise and acceptance of my work. Hell, it may have been my horrible ADHD (and it really is terrible and unmedicated) that caused me to ditch writing and work on my MBA. Maybe I am just being pulled apart by my two passions – writing and business.

Now, fast forward to present day. The planet is shutting down due to fears over the super flu known as Covid-19. The inability to leave the house on a whim has gripped us all. Most nights are spent on the couch, in front of the TV, trying to ignore the fear mongering being put on display by the news media here in the United States. Most of what is being discussed isn’t relevant to my daily life (since I work from home full time already), so I stare at the screen numbly taking it all in. This would be the perfect time to start back to my writing and answer the voices in my head – more accurately allow them to speak through me to the ones they really want to reach.

Several times I have picked up the laptop I use for writing. It feels cold to the touch and unfamiliar to me. The keyboard layout is how I remember it, but also wrong for how my fingers want to hit keys in an order to accomplish something. I pull up old manuscripts in progress and begin to continue the story, but the characters inside me refuse to cooperate because they can’t remember where we are in the story. How can they tell me what happens next, if they don’t know where they are? I am so out of touch with what I have created, if I created anything. I am starting to think I created very little and just allowed myself to be the conduit for them to expose themselves as being here. They are angry with me for turning my back on them, especially after giving them such hope in the past of breaking free of the darkness where untold stories exist.

I think I am going to take a step back and instead of focus so much on getting them down on paper, spend time with my characters getting to know them better. Listening to their stories, asking them questions as they tell them to me and understanding. How can I talk about my friends, if I don’t know them, AND are they really friends (or family) if I can’t answer questions about them – especially to myself.

Thank you for letting me vent, speak my mind, chat you up. If you have any questions, comments, or anything else – feel free to hit em up on social media.

~ Shawn

Twitter – @Shawn_writes

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