Lockdown, Covid and me…

Reliquary has taken an age to write.

Reading, researching, the passing away of my much-respected researcher, family issues, the farm, the gardens, the pandemic.

Ah yes, the pandemic…

The pandemic has been a curious experience.

When we went into a rigorous Lockdown where we were ensconced on a completely deserted coast with police helicopters checking for roaming rulebreakers…

…and where one required legal evidence of any trip to the city and back again, I had thought: ‘Good. Official purdah. I will finish writing this book and no doubt be halfway through writing the second in the trilogy when Lockdown comes to an end…’

How wrong I was!

Lockdown seemed to flick a switch in my brain.

I had no interest in doing anything that required deep intellectual concentration. I gather it’s been a common complaint – things reduced to the length of a soundbite.

I would cruise from working in the garden to a word or two of the manuscript…

…to a really long walk over the empty beaches and coastlines. Then to stitching at night – nothing big. Maybe a few little hearts for 1000 Hearts  (and there were plenty of folk who needed them), or else I would be stitching projects that were easy, or I would finish something from the To Be Finished box.

To be honest, only the ‘here and now’ was in my mind. Definitely not the 12th century.

Half way through Lockdown, I made a list of things I wanted to achieve – a list that didn’t include writing, interestingly and in the scheme of things, I was very productive.

I exercised heaps just by gardening and walking and lost weight (tearing my calf and Achilles at the same time which then gave me a legal reason to travel back to the city every 7-10 days). I finished stitching five limbo projects. My gardens had never looked so good, benefiting from Monty Don’s sage advice in Down to Earth – much pruning, feeding and digging, bearing in mind we have a big garden on the coast. I also cleaned out every house cupboard and realised that I needed half the clothes I possessed (I laundered and folded the discards for one of our favourite charities).

But more particularly, my family bonded as if glued. They have always been my life but Covid threatened our closeness and so we opted to live in a family bubble – 3 generations – and it paid off. Life had a huge semblance of normal compared to many of my friends who were forced apart. Equally, I appreciated the real value of email and Facebook for keeping in touch with loved friends across the globe.

During Lockdown, getting that next book out – yesterday, now, this minute – suddenly didn’t matter. Family and home were of so much more value. Might readers then forget me? Maybe, but in the time of a global pandemic, did that matter?

If nothing else Covid has been a teacher.

I found simplicity.

And through that, contentment. My husband and I were privileged to see the most amazing displays of moon and stars in our isolation.

We had the whole little seaside town to ourselves. We would meet owls and possums on nightwalks and bandicoots during the day. Bird sounds became louder because birds moved back into our environment when city folk departed. In its own way, Lockdown was a pathway back through time to the 1950’s and it felt GOOD! And we even had toilet paper!

We’re no longer in Lockdown and our Australian states are endeavouring to do a solid job keeping us safe and healthy. We’re not naïve enough to think that Covid won’t come again, but for now the pressure is off a little. By a subconscious coincidence, I note I’m writing much more of my novel daily.

No doubt a psychologist will write a book on the odd effects Covid has had during Lockdown in the year 2020. In between times, I can honestly say that only the best has happened to me, despite taking so long to finish Reliquary.

I know the rest of the world is really struggling with the latest wave of Covid, and that too is a lesson for us on my little island. We must never take things for granted and we need to be grateful.

So please everyone, do whatever you can to stay safe. I hope your individual Lockdowns bring you only good fortune, as mine has done, because this is a very strange year indeed…