If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last several hundred days, it’s that trying to write during a pandemic is like trying to draw a portrait blindfolded, with a white crayon, using only your right foot. It’s hard.
Literary inspiration is a fickle creature, it doesn’t just jump out of the wallpaper and choke you. Inspiration is a tree. You plant it, you water it, you wait for the sapling to grow, you prune it, water it, and check for apples.
The pandemic, however, was an industrial wood chipper. The pandemic turned my inspiration into organic mulch.
Before the pandemic, my columns/blogs were based on social experiences, regional travel, and meeting new friends. But without socialization, I had nothing to draw from except the letters and emails I started getting.
And, boy, was I getting some humdingers.
Often the letters I received were sad ones. Some letters were downright tragic and their words stuck with me. I once received a sober card from a guy in New York City who worked in
a hospital during the apex of the COVID crisis. It was almost more than I could read.
Also, I received lots of correspondence from kids—I didn’t think children even read my words. This just shows you how desperate the world became.
But the hardest part for me, by far, was finding the stamina to keep working on new books. In addition to this column I produce books that often go on to become doorstops, paperweights, and fly swatters. Writing a book is a time-intensive process for a slow guy like me. And this process gets even harder without the flowering tree of inspiration.
I don’t mean to reach for melodrama, but writing during a pandemic was one of more difficult things I’ve ever done except for loading the dishwasher with my wife breathing over my shoulder.
Until last year I never realized how much motivation I…