This was not the post I was expecting to write when I came back to this blog.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, so I guess I should start off by asking “how is everyone?” Are you all adjusting to a life of pandemic-enforced solitude, along with a quarantine of indeterminate length?
I’m well aware that experts have been warning about a pandemic for years, but if you had told me on New Year’s Even that March would usher in the most disruptive global events since WW2, I would have laughed and blamed it on politics—not a literal plague.
In truth, most days I still don’t believe we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Whenever I think about this fact, my brain short-circuits and immediately tries to wall away my intrusive thoughts. I would like to think that I’m used to intrusive thoughts on account of my chronic anxiety, but the difference this time is that I’m not the only one who’s anxious.
Misery loves company, as the saying goes, but the nature of this virus means that many of us won’t have company for a good six months or longer. This entire situation feels dystopic, or verging on dystopic. It’s weird, what you remember right before the start of a disaster; the sequence of banal events stick out like a sore thumb.
Personally, I remember flying back from LA in late December. After Christmas, I read small news snippets about a brand new virus that had emerged in China, but there was still no cause for alarm. At the time, there was a lot of discussion on the definition of pandemic vs epidemic, but the general public wasn’t fussed.
In February, I went to a grocery store with my parents to do some shopping. There were more reports by that time—this “coronavirus” had a name—but still nothing pressing. All the toilet paper was sold out, and all the rice was gone, too.
“Weird,” my mom said. “Maybe the shipment didn’t come in.” Delayed shipments are common in the mountains, so we didn’t think too much on it.
Two weeks later, my entire province was put into a state of emergency, and we went on lockdown. I genuinely wonder how our collective, first-hand experience with a pandemic is going to change the way we write about this particular sort of disaster from here on out.
The New Normal After COVID 19
So what’s the plan, now that I’m back on this blog and posting?
Despite the pandemic-imposed upset, my hiatus was not caused by the virus itself. I largely consider myself lucky, too. I live next to a mountain lake, and it’s not a bad place to quarantine.
I was not laid off, like so many others I know. I still have a job and can pay the bills. Both my family and I remain healthy. This normality is relatively rare considering the circumstances, so I’m very thankful for it. I’ve just got to adjust to “the new normal” and keep busy at home, is what I tell myself.
Unfortunately, adjusting to the new normal is more difficult on some days than others.
All the trips I’d planned for this year have summarily been canceled. Being able to travel is not the end of the world, but all my doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, and appointments-of-an-unspecified-nature have been cancelled, too. Slow deliveries of critical goods are common where I live. What if those slow delays turn into an actual shortage?
On the sillier side of things, I have a hobby of framing art, but the local framing shop is closed because it’s a non-essential service. Late at night, I find myself in an anxious frenzy over the fact that it might be shut down for good.
The fact that I’m getting irrationally upset over this one particular framing shop is stupid. I know it’s stupid, because the coronavirus is making me irrationally distraught over a lot of little things.
More rational are my fears about my long-term career plans, which are now in flux. Just prior to the outbreak, I finished writing my second novel, and was about to query it. For those unfamiliar with the definition of querying: it’s the act of creating a cover-styled pitch for your novel. Once complete, you send that query to literary agents in the hopes of acquiring rep.
A lot of agents are still open to queries, and the industry is chugging along, as it does. Unfortunately querying is tough even on a good day, and a lot of agencies are based in some of the hardest-hit areas of the pandemic. Despite the widespread assurances to “send stuff in,” I’m extremely conflicted over the idea of querying right now. Is it appropriate to send out a pitch when people have bigger concerns? I don’t want to impose upon others.
I’m also curious (and anxious) about how the economic fallout from this pandemic will affect publishing long-term.
Finally, Some Useful Updates
I know this post has been sort of rambling, but not all my updates are about the pandemic. My return to this blog does have a point.
After some obsessive tweaking, I’ve finally finished the layout for this blog (at least for now). As some folks may remember, I launched “shiannewrites” a little too early due to Tumblr’s collapse in 2018. At the time, I wasn’t entirely pleased with how things looked, but since then I’ve updated this space to make it more mobile-friendly. Some quick links you should know about:
On the subject of links, you should also follow me on Instagram! I have and will be using it more often.
Check out My Entertainment Writing… Officially
As mentioned, the pandemic is not the reason I was away for so long. Basically, work picked up.
Last summer I worked as a staff writer for WhatNerd. There, I covered the “nerd lifestyle,” reviewed sci-fi films, and wrote meta on fandom/pop-culture. If you want to read my full list of articles, check out my author profile on the site!
Some of my personal favorites from that time include:
- There’s a “Class Difference” in Fandom: It’s Pay to Play and That’s Not Fair
- TV Review: “High Seas S1” is a Period Piece Romantic Mystery Full of Twists
- 10 Monster Movies You Absolutely Have to Watch
Open to Art Commissions in May 2020
Finally, as part of an ongoing personal project for 2020, I’m updating one of my fanfics, Icarus Drowns in Pieces. It’s a Rise of Skywalker fix-it fic where Rey’s increasingly perturbed visions (and Kylo Ren’s rampant anxiety) push them to flee into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy.
Once there, they search for a Sith artifact that’s driving Rey mad.
Keep Busy at Home, and Other Positive Thoughts
Now that those updates are out of the way, it’s safe to say that this blog post is at an end. With luck, I’ll get back into regular posting. I’ve been reading and watching a lot of TV during the quarantine, and I can’t wait to recommend some good books.