I haven’t been doing a lot of writing during lockdown. At least, not the kind of writing I hoped to do. Not the contemporary women’s fiction I identify with. I’m still working on my final final rewrite of Virtuous Women, though “working on” suggests more activity than I can legitimately claim. I started a new novel two NaNoWriMo’s ago, which has potential, but COVID-19 has changed the world so much that the chapters I wrote in November 2019 now seem outrageously unrealistic. For example, I have one scene where eight family members spanning three generations dine at a crowded restaurant. Visits with elderly relatives in nursing homes happen with ease. Kids complain about the usual school stuff. Reading it now feels quaint, and not at all contemporary.
That project is on hold. I’ll rewrite it and locate it towards the end of the COVID-19 restrictions, when I’m sure that’s where we are and the scenes and situations will resonate with the readers’ own experiences. This novel, like Virtuous Women, is contemporary fiction, not speculative fiction.
Not that I have anything against speculative fiction. Another project I’m working on is science fiction, and it involves a number of short stories as well as a novel. I’m most of the way through the first short story, but I haven’t made nearly the progress I’d hoped for.
I have done other writing during lockdown, though. It just doesn’t seem like writing, because I don’t have a finished project I can submit somewhere. But it has been very writing-intensive, nonetheless.
This past October my kids’ school was still doing 100% remote learning, as they had been since the middle of last March. Their school decided to hire someone to run optional in-person “after school” activities so the kids could have a social outlet, and they ended up hiring me. It went well until Thanksgiving, when the COVID numbers spiked. The school decided to move all their programs online, including mine. Most of my activities didn’t translate well to Zoom, and these kids were in danger of losing what was, for some of them, the only social outlet they had.
So I got creative.
I launched a Dungeons & Dragons club.
I’d always wanted to play D&D as a kid, but I was a girl in the 1980s. Back then few girls played. D&D was also the realm of nerds and geeks, and I wasn’t encouraged to be either.
But a few years ago my kids’ homeschool coop introduced D&D to a new generation. We had a shortage of Dungeon Masters, so I learned how to play and lead a campaign. I’d even begun writing my own adventure set in my own world. I dusted that off and used it for the school’s D&D club. I had four different groups following the same basic campaign, but of course each group makes their own decisions. Tailoring the adventure for each specific group was challenging, and a lot of work. But it definitely counts as writing. (During lockdown, I’ll count the grocery list as writing!)
We’ll be wrapping up the adventure in the next week or two, and I’ll be glad to get my writing time back. But I don’t necessarily want to leave this world, or this story. Since COVID-19 has made writing contemporary fiction so complicated, maybe I’ll wander into the speculative fiction genre a little more. Maybe I’ll convert my D&D campaign into a high fantasy adventure.
Maybe I will.