Lockdown Blog Day 30

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020

When I was younger, I was always told that too many hours in front of the television screen would give me square eyes. Now, it seems, we’re all spending hours in front of a multitude of screens and displays without any consideration for the shape our eyes may be turning.

But where would we be without screens right now? It’s screens that are connecting us, be it to loved ones or to work, to shopping and to leisure.

And, boy, do we need the distractions of our screens now more than ever. And thank goodness the channels are responding! It’s time for some proper feel-good TV and we’ve not been disappointed. New episodes of The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, Friday Night Dinner and I’ll Get This to name just a few, as well as all the great repeats, are shows that are simply easy watching amongst all the gloomy coverage.

Away from the constant news updates, these shows are more than light relief, offering a real chance to escape into the silliness and happiness that these shows provide. Take I’ll Get This for example. It’s nothing more than watching a group of minor celebrities have dinner and play simple parlour games. I’m captivated. There’s no really point to it, it’s just good fun.

I will come out of this with incredibly square eyes. But, I’ll feel slightly better thanks to it!

Lockdown Blog Day 29

Tuesday, 21th April 2020

My garden doesn’t grow quickly enough.

I’m green-fingered anyway, but the lockdown is meaning that I am spending more time than usual in the garden. I check on my growing vegetables more times than I really should, leading to a very disappointing feeling when I discover they haven’t grown since the last time I looked.

This year, I’ve planted:

  • potatoes,
  • carrots,
  • tomatoes,
  • broccoli,
  • beetroot,
  • beans
  • peas,
  • mangetout,
  • lettuce and
  • strawberries.

So far, apart from a few green shoots, nothing. I planted three weeks ago, and done a Prince Charles on them, but nothing. Am I being unreasonable? Yes – yes, I am!

How can I become more patient with my garden? Or does my garden just need to recognise it needs to hurry up this year?

Lockdown Blog Day 28

Monday, 20th April 2020

I am not a fan of the current fad in news broadcasting: the Skype (or similar) connection to talking heads. The connections invariably fail, stutter and the mouth and the voice become, strangely, separated.

But there is one upside. In an attempt to appear more intellectual, the guests always position themselves in front of their bookcases. Some are woefully understocked, some are amazingly crammed that it leaves me wondering if they have read the majority of them.

But whilst the talking head, some professor, doctor, politician, whoever, is waffling on, I like to play a game. To anyone watching, it surely appears that I have lost my marbles as I crawl up to the TV screen and crane my neck to see. I like to find books that I have read on other people’s bookshelves.

Now, I don’t judge. That’s a lie – I do! You see, in these people’s attempts to appear intelligent, they unwittingly allow me to spot all the saucy and trashy novels they’ve read. All the cheap holiday thrillers that are carefully arranged appear like scientific reference material. You’re not fooling me!

One head didn’t play my game, however. He had, and I’m almost so certain of this I’d stake my red pen on it, he had a set of 1980s VHS leather-effect VHS covers on his bookcase! You know the sort: meant to look like ancient books, but really just hid your tapes! Play along. Next time an expert appears on the screen, don’t get distracted by the actual science. Look at their bookcase. How many of their books have you read? Maybe you’re really as intelligent as they claim to be!

Lockdown Blog Day 27

Sunday, 19th April 2020

I’m going to be controversial. Again.

I have a big problem with the current situation. I’m all for isolating ourselves to avoid needless contamination. I’m all for encouraging personal hygiene to prevent spreading diseases. I’m all for supporting NHS and other healthcare and social care workers.

I do, however, have a problem with the idea that we have to give money to this cause. We don’t. We are lucky in this country, we have a centrally funded healthcare system, funded out of taxation, that we are all able to access, free at the point of use. Pandemic or no pandemic, the NHS is funded. It really is the envy of the world.

With the encouragement of fundraising, I genuinely worry that, in the future, there will be a feeling that the public are expected to top up the NHS with donations. Shouldn’t we, if we want a world class healthcare system that is ready to deal with pandemics and seasonal flu, be prepared to pay more in taxation for it.

I’m sure that the millions of pounds raised so far is going to good causes. I hope it is being used responsibly and makes a difference. I hope, too, it is not used as an excuse to reduce funding in the future because the public will pick up the difference.

On a lighter note, I’ve launched the self-publishing page, for authors wanting a bespoke self-publishing package! Check it out here.

Lockdown Blog Day 26

Saturday, 18th April 2020

After blogging about finding inspiration, it seems that now I cannot escape finding inspirational things to write about!

Today three astronauts that had been aboard the International Space Station returned to Earth. One left nine months ago, whilst the other two return after six months orbiting above our planet. They left when hugs, kisses, handshakes were acceptable. They left when it was OK to visit family members, meet friends in bars and restaurants and shop for books in bookshops.

Whilst being isolated is nothing unusual if you’ve spent months in space. But the world around has changed so dramatically, can we imagine what it would be like to re-enter the world at this time?

Chris Cassidy, one of the US astronauts, told the Associated Press: “…and where were you when coronavirus was happening […] I’ll have my own interesting story to tell”.

What stories shall we tell?

Lockdown Blog Day 25

Friday, 17th April 2020

Whilst there might not be much inspiration from the world outside, I decided I would actively look for stimuli during lockdown (not including the internet!).

  • Feelings. We all have but, perhaps, in lockdown, they are more at the forefront of your mind.
  • Stories. Now is the time for discovering new stories. Not just novels, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, there’s a lot of storytelling going on.
  • Windows. Look out. There’s a world, one we don’t necessarily recognise, but a world nonetheless.
  • Food and drink. Explore all your senses. So often, we writers forget taste, smell, touch. We experience them daily, let’s make sure our characters experience them too.

Someone who has found inspiration to release a book is the writer Pete Draper, who features on my new Author Spotlight page.

Check out his book for free by visiting the Author Spotlight page! I gave him a free chapter edit, you could have one too – click here.

Lockdown Blog Day 24

Thursday, 16th April 2020

Three more weeks.

Today the government has confirmed that the lockdown will be continuing for three more weeks. That means three more weeks of:

  • Enjoying the sunshine from the garden
  • Feeling guilty for just going shopping
  • Wondering if (insert item here) is an essential
  • Hoping that the arse doesn’t come out of the economy so much that people stop writing
  • Desperately finding inspiration for writing these blog posts whilst staring at the same four walls!

Lockdown Blog Day 23

Wednesday, 15th April 2020

Writing a daily journal is great if, and it’s a big if, you’re actually doing something!

That’s not to say I’m not doing anything! I’m writing, I’m editing, I’m marketing, I’m gardening. I do things. Plenty of things. Afterall, I was working from home before it was enforced!

But now, there’s nothing unusual to do. There’s routine. Routine is great for getting things done. But it’s not great for inspiration. When I write, it’s the people that I meet that become characters. Their mannerisms, patterns of speech, quirks all become part of the fiction. Places I see and go to become settings. Daily life, without realising it, is the inspiration I needed.

Now we don’t have daily life. The only people we see are those in our household and those carrying out their daily necessities. And most of them are hidden behind masks. The places we go are the shop and back. Very quickly!

I envy those who are using this time to write. Perhaps, and I am certainly incredibly envious of these people, they are using this situation as inspiration!

Maybe I stop making excuses for not writing and just get on and write.

Lockdown Blog Day 22

Tuesday, 14th April 2020

Throughout human history, it is often said that the greatest time of change and invention is during war. Military technology soon finds its way to civilian use and we all benefit. Nuclear power, jet engines, the Internet all began life as military inventions, but soon became powerful developments for the entire human race.

What we are currently engaged in, although is said to be bringing about massive changes in society, is not a war. We talk of battling Covid-19, but in reality, we are not fighting the coronavirus, we are fighting for survival.

It’s why, I believe, we will not really bring massive change as a result of this. We will soon fall back into our old ways, albeit with a bit more national debt. We are not fighting, creating and inventing anything new. We are simply learning to adapt quickly. Very, very quickly.

Are we winning? Or are we just about managing?

Lockdown Blog Day 21

Monday, 13th April 2020

Today, Quiz a drama based on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? ‘Cheating Major’ scandal. Recently, and incidentally by the same writer, we’ve also watched the drama of Brexit told through drama in Brexit: The Uncivil War. Events, unpacked and retold through dramas and stories is how we make sense of the world.

All major events, from wars and terrorist attacks to political scandals and celebrity affairs, are subjects of retellings in a fictional style, as that is often how we best see history. It’s how we understand history.

How will the dramas of Covid-19 play? We don’t have ‘the cheating major’ or ‘the Brexiteers’ to hang a story on. Instead, we have a Prime Minister, a Health Secretary and a Chief Medical Officer who all fall victim to the very virus they’re fighting.

It’s a gripping plot.

But, for now at least, there’s one thing we don’t know: how will this story end?