Why write when the world is in lockdown? Who will want to read while NHS workers and many others are putting in long hours to save our nation? What place do the frivolities of reading and writing have to play in such huge times of national uncertainty? Surely, all non-serious occupations should be laid down, like children putting down their toys as adulthood approaches?
A lot of questions that can be summarised as ‘why write when life is on hold?’
That’s what I thought at first, throughout week 1 and well into week 2. I stopped writing, started listening intently to every news broadcast, debated with those around me as to duration, impact, methods to counter.
And so it went on.
But just a minute, I was asking the wrong question, I realised as week 2 came to a close.
Why not write?
This is how the new logic goes: Reading creates tension in the reader as the story evolves, as plots and problems move towards their climaxes. Yet it also eases the tension of everyday life.
It’s not just escapism, it’s something extra. It is reassuring to pick up a book and lose oneself in a damn good read. But it also reminds us of other times, other places, other things. Consequently, it follows that there will be an end to whatever troubles currently encompass us. Reading involves hope.
And without writers, we would be out of books.
In weeks 3 and 4, I’ve listened to one or two news broadcasts a day. I’ve still talked about coronavirus amongst my family but mainly in wonder at so many people doing so much for us all.
And I am back to writing and doing it with joy, tinged with the sorrow of what we are going through but still with joy.