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Showing posts from April, 2020

Of Writing Productivity During a Pandemic

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All through the Covid pandemic, I've been under continuous low-level stress, that spikes and ebbs depending on news I receive on personal and professional fronts.

April has been a surreal month for me, as I'm sure it has been for all of us (I've been self-isolating since March due to low immunity ). The most mundane things like going for a walk, grocery shopping, watching a play, seem like things I must have done in another life that I have but a vague memory of.

I've worked from home for more than a decade, so the 'circuit-breaker' here in Singapore has not changed my life in a drastic fashion. It has taken away options, though. I can't pick up my laptop and write at a cafe if my muse proves elusive, or call a friend for coffee to listen to each other nattering about our lives, or work off some steam at the gym.

Add to that the relentless barrage of ugly news, and it makes me want to curl up and hide.


Having looked at all this in a calm fashion (something…

Poetic license - N M Browne

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It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have done very little work in these extraordinarySpring days. Instead, I have walked through Richmond Park, along the Thames path and through Sheen Common as if I have never seen them before. I know I am privileged to live near such lovely places.
. I don’t know if it is the lack of planes and traffic, the imminent and pervasive sense of doom, or just the fact that it is an exceptionally beautiful Spring, but really the landscape has never looked so lush. The blossom is almost excessive, the sky an implausible shade of blue. I wonder if I have slipped into some alternate Disney fantasy and Covid 19 is about to be destroyed by a square jawed, unfeasibly muscular hero on a white charger. Neither the Spring nor the threat seem entirely real.
    As I seem to be living through some poorly plotted and not entirely plausible fiction ( I mean the American president suggesting people inject themselves with cleaning fluid!) I seem unable to write any…

Plagues and silence, by Enid Richemont

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Greetings from one plague-ridden country to the rest of the plague-ridden world (and did I, in any of my dystopian fantasies, imagine I would be, in the Spring of 2020, writing a sentence like that for real? Did any of us?)

It seems that there may be a vaccine by September or October, but I'm sure you don't want anything to do with nasty Big Pharma, so here are some alternative suggestions. They are very old, so obviously must be valid. The gentlest one is drinking vinegar - cheap and simple, although it might attack your tooth enamel, and give you serious indigestion, but you have to be prepared to suffer in order to be cured. Rotting teeth were trendy once - maybe that might return?

After that, though, my prescription might get a little more expensive. You could try arsenic or mercury. These might be difficult to find at your local pharmacy, but I have access to the Dark Web, and I know of a nice Russian gentleman, ex-KGB, who might provide, but at a price.  Chopped snake or c…

Is the Pandemic Affecting Your Manuscript? - Andrew Crofts

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How quickly contemporary writing can seem historical.
When I first started writing in London in 1970, not only the fashions and hairstyles were different. We had a coin-operated public phone in my shared flat and anyone lucky enough to own a car could simply pull up outside and leave it there. Now when a piece of film from that period appears on television it looks like an historical document, books from the leading authors of the day can feel equally old fashioned.
The proliferation of mobile phones has changed the way that the plots of thrillers and detective series work and the progress of the MeToo movement has changed the way that we talk to one another. The unlikely rise of showmen like Trump and Johnson to positions of genuine power has changed our view of what is possible politically, moving the parameters for where a reader has to suspend disbelief.
So will the Covid pandemic, and our reaction to it, change for ever the way we view things like social distancing? It already …

Reading in Progress During Lockdown -- Rituparna Roy

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I’m writing this post to motivate myself to finish the reading list I have for the quarantine. In the very limited time that I have at my disposal (yes: my problem - as I’ve already written in my personal blog earlier this month - is not a surfeit of time, but a lack of it), I have had to choose between reading and writing; and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve prioritized writing. That, too, hasn’t happened much, but even that wouldn’t have happened if I’d read more. But I so want to read more…! I’m not “catching up” with books – with the latest titles, etc. I’m just reading what I’ve wanted to for a while now, but haven’t had a chance.
First in that list was Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018) – 
This is the only one I’ve finished reading so far. It has one of the best opening lines I’ve ever read: "I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving". Indeed, the book is one long, sustained narrative of Michelle's striving: as an African-American girl from a wor…

Super Scientists by Susan Price

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Hey, I landed a gig with a 'proper publisher'!


Rising Star are the publishers and it's one of an extensive series of 'Game Changers' aimed at different reading ages. There are books about game changing entertainers, computer pioneers and 'hidden heroes' or people who did great things but were never given their due.

Initially I was offered a choice between writing about game-changing sports people or scientists. An easy decision for me. Sport has always left me cold but science has always fascinated me.


Writing the book was difficult and I thoroughly enjoyed it.There was a strict word number but Rising Stars wanted eight scientists, which worked out at about 1,500 words each. The brief was: a short introductory account of each subject's early life, followed by a broad account of their main achievements.

This was easier for some than others. As an exercise, try covering Einstein's achievements and life in 1500 words, while being readable and comprehensibl…

We should be being creative ... shouldn't we? Jo Carroll

Take this time, we are told, to learn something new. To explore a new hobby. To notice small delights that would normally pass us by.

This morning a contributor to Woman's Hour told me I could use the time to shave the bobbles off an old sweater; it would, somehow, make me feel like a new woman. I could take a virtual tour through the British Museum and gaze at artefacts that I usually scramble to see through a horde of other visitors. I can find a webcam to follow and watch as eagle chicks hatch, squeal for food, and finally spread their wings. I can listen to concerts. I can join a virtual choir. I can pick up my work-in-progress and transform it from it's current muddle into something beautiful (coherent would be a start).

The trouble, for me, is that I struggle with being told what to do. And under normal circumstances I'd rather eat my own feet than be told what to do by a Tory. But these are not normal circumstances. And so I am doing as I'm told: walking once a …

Time in the Time of Covid19 by @Edenbaylee

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The world is finally united. I just wish it was for something good instead of the deadly Covid19 virus. Being isolated at home with my husband is not a hardship. We’ve worked from home for years, but now, I’m cooking a hell of a lot more! We don’t go out for dinner like we used to. We did, however, venture out of the house over a week ago, but that was for essentials. Okay, I lie. Wine really isn’t an essential, but it makes life a bit easier. 
Physical isolation from the outside world has thrown off my sleep patterns, even more so than usual. The days of the week, normally a marker of tasks and events, are now cluttered in my mind. Does Monday feel different from Thursday or Friday? Does it even matter? Certainly, the precision of time is now less important. There are fewer (no) appointments or meetings I need to keep. I don’t have to check my schedule because … well, there’s no urgency to be anywhere. Instead, mundane tasks such as making meals, cleaning, and laundry now occupy more of my a…

Fiction, Reality, Memoir... by Mari Howard

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I am a fan of The Archers…the Archers potters along, but I find myself these days hoping that something might have a successful outcome — why must the Archers mirror society, and more relevantly, does it?The Rob and Helen storyline was exciting, moving, and telling, a warning about coercive control… now the Emma and Ed one informs about the desperate plight of a rural population struggling to make a home and living… but, if that crash lands in total failure, doesn’t it, somehow, also teach that there can be no escape, none at all, and leave listeners depressed and hopeless?
I don’t know. I don’t believe in offering my readers total ‘happy endings’ in terms of ‘getting what we want’, but I hunt for a bit of balance. I watch Call the Midwife for relaxation, fully realising that anyhappiness achieved is not, of course, always an outcome in real life, but at least I am relaxed and entertained. I have friends who can’t 
watch: remembering labour and birth they don’t
want to revisit it on scre…