I never thought I’d need to worry about passing the time in Quarantine, and yet here we are. Hooray?
In fact, it’s the weirdest title I’ve ever written. Look:
Passing the time in quarantine
So weird. Anyway.
Over the early days of this wild pandemic I read a lot of posts and articles about how to be super, extra productive during these endless days of varying levels of lockdown. It got on my nerves quite a lot. First of all, I didn’t have a ton of down time – and I know that i’m lucky to have been able to continue working and even better, that it can be done from the safety of my home (I’ve been working from home since June of 2018 anyway). But not only was I still working, I was doing a lot of overtime because my industry was in overdrive. It was a relief, work-wise. It also meant I didn’t have time to be learning three new languages, writing a 1500-page tome, and re-painting my house while also learning to sew and bake French patries.
The other reason it bugged me to much was because it felt so arrogant. Why should anyone even have to be productive right now? Especially at the beginning when everything was coming at us at warp speed. People kept spouting about how you had to take advantage of this time to do this and do that. But people were scared, overwhelmed, frozen. You have to allow space for that.
So no, you do not have to be productive, not even now as we enter the Xth week of this pandemic. If all you want to do right now, if all you can handle right now, is to answer “are you still watching?” on Netflix with a solid YES, that’s fine.
As for me, I’m not being productive exactly. I am slowly slogging through my revisions on my novel, working away at my second draft. I had wanted to be on my third draft right now, ready for Pitch Madness in June but the reality is I didn’t have it in me to buckle down and focus on it the way I had wanted to. And that’s okay! I will finish it when I’m ready.
Aside from getting through my novel, I’ve been loosely plotting out a variety of new stories and I’ll see which one calls to me most when it’s time to start drafting again.
In the meantime, here are some other things I’ve been doing, passing the time in Quarantine – things I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to. If you don’t feel like being productive but want to enjoy some distraction, maybe some of them will inspire you.
What I’ve been reading:
Full disclosure – I couldn’t read a damn thing from mid-March into mid-April. I picked up and rejected more books than I can recall during that month’s time. I’d read a few pages at best and then put it down, unable to focus. As a lifelong reader it was distressing to not be able to lose myself in a story like I used to.
In the middle of April I’d had enough. Earlier in the year I’d read the first four books (novellas) in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire in about a week and a half. I bought the ebook of book #5, Come Tumbling Down and it was exactly what I needed to break through my ennui. In two days and change I was done and ready to read again.
Since April 14th I have read:
- Come Tumbling Down – Seanan McGuire
- Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1) – Seanan McGuire
- Rolling in the Deep – Mira Grant
- Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant
- Middlegame – Seanan McGuire
- City of Ghosts – V.E. Schwab
It bears mentioning that Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire’s pen name, so basically I’m on a bit of a roll with her books. She’s amazing. I strongly recommend the Wayward Children series (but read them in order, don’t pick up Come Tumbling Down first) to anyone who was ever a kid desperately seeking a hidden door to another world. The two Mira Grant books are for anyone who loves horror and would enjoy scaring the shit out of themselves with killer mermaids – I’ve never been afraid of the ocean but I may be a little suspicious of it now.
Middlegame was incredible but I would strongly recommend sticking with it past the first few chapters before abandoning it; I seriously thought that I was possibly too stupid for this intense story of alchemy. I was hooked by the third chapter and I’m confident that I understood most of the alchemy side of it by the end although I’d be hard-pressed to explain it clearly.
Today I finished City of Ghosts. It’s a Middle Grade book so it was a quick read but a great story of a haunted city full of ghosts as far as the eye can see – but only if you can walk through the Veil into the land of the dead like the main character. My own novel is a ghost story so I really enjoyed reading this one.
Next up will either be the sequel to City of Ghosts (Tunnel of Bones), Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, or Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire.
You can follow my reviews over on Goodreads here.
What I’ve been watching:
As far as television goes, I haven’t been watching much that’s new. But I’ve been watching nonetheless.
For TV I’ve been watching episodes of The Office for the second time. I did a full binge for the very first time starting back in January, but my younger daughter missed the first couple of seasons so we’re catching her up on those. When the news is a constant dumpster fire (not only is there the pandemic, Nova Scotia has also seen a slew of tragedy from a mass shooting – Canada’s biggest – to missing children to a plane crash to forest fires, so it’s been A LOT), there is something to comforting about turning on The Office and listening to Jim and Pam’s banter or rolling your eyes at Michael and Dwight.
I also started watching Dead to Me on Netflix because everyone was so excited about season two. I’ve only seen one episode so far but it was amazing and I look forward to more.
And of course I watched Tiger King because I was powerless to resist. PS Carole Baskin totally killed her husband.
As far as movies, I can’t recall too many of them, but I did see The Girl With All the Gifts recently. I read the book and was nervous the movie would ruin it but they did a pretty good job of sticking with the original story. If you’ve ever thought you can’t tell any new stories about zombies, you should check that one out, it was a nice spin on the genre.
Oh! And I’ve been watching Saturday Night Live’s home edition, impressed with the way they keep coming up with skits from a distance, and I love Friday Night In With the Morgans with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his wife Hilarie Burton.
What I’ve been listening to:
I have not listened to any new albums for any artists lately but I have found two things to listen to that help me out a lot when I’m writing.
One is the Ambient Worlds YouTube channel. They have a wide range of tracks to pick from, all instrumental and all inspired by books and movies and games. I particularly enjoy several themes from Lord of the Rings (Rivendell is great for writing dramatic scenes), the Ravenclaw common room, and Winterfell from Game of Thrones. They have a ton of things to fill your background with non-distracting sounds. As a bonus, the videos are beautiful as well.
The other, and the one I listen to most frequently lately, is Ludovico Einaudi’s album In A Time Lapse. I constantly play it on repeat; I’ll have to add him to my book acknowledgments when I’m done.
My main character’s name is Liddy; she’s a goth teen who has a weird love of 80s goth music and synth pop. I listen to a lot of Duran Duran, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, et al when I need to get in the mood to step inside Liddy’s head.
I can’t do audiobooks because I drift off and miss what’s happening but I’m good for podcasts. I love to listen to Deadline City, a podcast about life as an author by Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton. It is fabulous and I feel like I’m learning a lot from both of them.
Other things I’ve been enjoying:
I’ve been enjoying other non-media things as well. I go for walks with the kids. I play with the bunny. The weather is warmer which means I can relax on my back deck. The birds sing a little louder in the morning. We’ve had family game days playing Clue. We’ve spent more time together as a family. George has been cooking a ton of delicious new recipes. I’ve put on makeup most mornings for office video conference meetings.
They’re little things but they all add up.