Lockdown Blog Day 8

Tuesday, 31st March 2020

We’re a week in and what have we learnt?

  • British people will do anything, if it’s presented to us on social media.
    • That includes taking up exercise classes, music or distance learning schemes.
  • British people get bored incredibly easily.
    • They soon find other ways to amuse themselves, quickly moving from useful things to videos.
  • Despite repeated calls for PPE by NHS workers, the government are still struggling to provide them is suitable quantities.
    • But everyone in my local supermarket was wearing masks and gloves?
  • Dogs have never been so fit.
  • People have relearnt to ride bicycles.
  • We don’t need cars.
  • If Boris can get it, anyone can get it.
    • Even Dominic Cummings it appears.

We can do a week, but can we do a month? How long will it take? There are a lot of questions that remain unanswered, but so far, everyone seems compliant. The police, while enforcing the lockdown measures, have come in for a bit of criticism today. With any luck, they won’t need to be enforcing for much longer.

And I’ve learnt that I can blog for 7 days straight. (I did a combined one over the weekend, does that count?)

Lockdown Blog Day 7

Monday, 30th March 2020

I’m not into conspiracy theories. I do believe that man landed on the moon and the Queen is not a lizard-person who came to earth in a pyramid. (What is that all about? Why lizard and why the pyramids?)

I do not believe that the idea of the current lockdown was created to do unspeakable things to the people of this planet by world leaders. I do not believe that this has all been planned from the outset. Rather, I fear there has been a distinct lack of planning.

What I do believe and what I do fear though, is the precedent that this is creating. I was recently trying to think of a time when the atmosphere in towns and cities was quite like this and the only example I could think of was the riots that started in London in 2011. Even then, the government didn’t lock people away in their homes and fine and arrest people on the streets for no good reason. What’s to say that, when a big event or decision is about to take place, another lockdown is imposed. Does a period in ‘self-isolation’ mean we’re less likely to protest?

In better news, I actually submitted a script today! (Having written 15 pages and then reread the T&Cs to discover they only wanted 10 pages.)

Lockdown Blog: Days 5 and 6

Saturday, 28th and Sunday, 29th March 2020

‘Self-isolation’ is not a novel idea for many people in society. For some, indeed, it is their daily norm. WFH, or working from home, is how some of us earn our keep and not something that seems strange or innovative. For a whole raft of people, including writers and editors, especially those who freelance, life is continuing pretty much as normal, with the exception that the outside world has gone slightly bonkers.

But it could soon be more than madness. Francesca Melandri, writing in Saturday’s Guardian, paints a picture of what life in Italy’s lockdown has become and how she see’s Britain’s lockdown and the apparently blasé way some people are treating the lockdown. From the perspective of distance, she relates the Italian experience, said to be two or three weeks ahead of the experience of those in Britain. It really is interesting to see life reflected so accurately from that distance.

One reason for blogging just once over the course of the weekend is that I was working hard on a manuscript. As I said at the beginning, we freelancers have to work regardless, be that weekend or in lockdown. That said, today’s writing was very ‘Lockdown’ focussed, as I quickly write a script for a TV company. Hopefully, they’ll accept it! However, as I write, I’m still a page too long!

Lockdown Blog: Day 4

Friday, 27th March 2020

After yesterday saying that Covid-19 is the virus that gets everyone, from prisoner to royalty, today we get the announcement that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for Covid-19 and the Chief Medical Officer is in self-isolation. Are the men that are giving us advice not following it themselves?

It is said that the perfect conditions for writing are to have no distractions around you. Despite being confined to my writing desk, I’m finding that the inability to just ‘pop out’ is the single biggest distraction. I’m busy trying to write a very short script, as I posted on Wednesday, but despite the theme being about confinement, it’s the very thing that’s stopping me.

We’re facing the first weekend in lockdown in the United Kingdom. Lets hope that people do not get carried away, heed the advice and stay indoors as far as possible. I shall be staying indoors, where, hopefully, I’ll be writing and editing.

On that note, today I was lucky enough to be given yet another lovely piece of feedback. Check it out on the testimonials page!

Lockdown Blog: Day 3

Thursday, 26th March 2020

Three days in, the sun, an important topic of conversation in the UK, is out. Ironically, it seems, the only time we get sun is the only time we’re not allowed to properly enjoy it. Still, gardens should be well tended to this year.

Today, we saw how Covid-19 is affecting absolutely everybody in the community. Yesterday it was the Prince of Wales, today it was confirmed that prisoners are also dying of the virus. Whoever you are or what ever you’ve with your life, this has proved to be a great leveller of people.

I’m reminded of the HIV crisis of the 1980s and worry that groups of people will soon become stigmatised and ostracised because of this crisis. Let’s hope that it brings us together.

So far, it is bringing the country together. We’ve clapped the NHS workers tonight. Someone close to me even let of a single firework. We’re smiling to each other as we pass in the street and hundreds of thousands of people are signing up to volunteer.

Now, I don’t want to appear negative, but as I’m British, I cannot help myself. When I volunteered with an organisation, we were always desperate for people to join us and help out. What is it about a crisis that gets people to do good things for each other that they wouldn’t ordinarily do? I hope, when all this is over, people try to find ways to help each other without a crisis as a stimulus.

On better news, the Chancellor has announced measures to help the self-employed with a massive financial package. And I completed another free sample edit, a rather bloody fantasy chapter! I hope I get to read some more.

Lockdown Blog: Day 2

Wednesday, 25th March 2020

Much quieter today. The measures taken seem to be heeded and there were much, much fewer people out and about today and, when I took my daily exercise, it was noticeably quiet, even compared to yesterday.

Perhaps it was the news that the Prince of Wales had contracted Covid-19. Perhaps it was that everyone, finally, has run out of room to put all the toilet rolls, bottles of cooking oil and frozen foods.

Despite the closure of all cultural venues, culture itself has not been closed completely. Now, as getting editing contracts is proving somewhat challenging, I’m back to writing. The BBC are running a callout for scripts for a short series called InterConnected and the Papatango Theatre Company are asking for monologues. So at least people are connecting with stories in this time.

One interesting phenomenon is the use of face masks whilst people are driving. Over the past week, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of people using face masks in their own vehicles while driving. I’d love to know the thinking, and the science if there is any, behind that.

There are increasingly vocal calls for support for the self-employed and so, hopefully, by tomorrow we’ll understand how the government are to support us as they have our employed friends and colleagues.

Lockdown Blog: Day One

Day One: Tuesday, 24th March 2020

Last night, here in the United Kingdom, the Government enacted severe new restrictions, including closing all shops not deemed as supplying essential goods, preventing people from accessing public spaces and leisure facilities and curtailing people from gathering in more than a pair.

My intention is to give a daily record of my own life during this rather turbulent time. It is not fact checked, it is not editorially sound and is merely my own reflections to look back on in years to come. One day, this will be in a history textbook!

There were queues this morning for ‘essential’ shopping. In fact, as I stood waiting to get into the supermarket, I overheard two ladies talking. One said to the other: “It’s not even us that started it but we have to pay the price!” How, exactly, did this person feel was the best way to deal with the pandemic? Perhaps the first poor soul who contracted Covid-19 is the one and only person who should be dealing with it? Poor sod.

The shop itself was reasonably stocked. I even managed to grab some toilet roll! Having missed out on the first wave of “panic buying”, I felt obliged to join in the craze and immediately grabbed my allowed two packs.  

Later, after an afternoon gardening, a ventured out for my daily, allowed, exercise on the bike. I live about four miles from the town centre and, whilst the roads were quiet, the parks and open spaces were surprisingly busy. Not congregations, that would not be allowed(!), just lots and lots of people out walking their dogs or stretching their legs. It would appear that the “Stay at home” message, helpfully delivered by text from the government (via all the phone operators as the UK doesn’t have its own system) was being translated as “don’t go out in the car”.

Back at home, things are, for now, normal-ish. There’s food in the cupboards and sun in the sky. Now it would be great to get a contact sorted so I can work too!

The secret to longevity

“What is the secret to your longevity?” I asked the author who had come to sign books at the local, independent bookshop this week. She has been around a while and has quite many books out. Incidentally, we should all be making a far greater effort to buy local. It is these shops that are the heart of local high streets and wider communities. They greet us by name as we walk in and know what we want to buy organically, not because of some computer-generated algorithm. We might think that buying online, especially in this Covid-19 panic season, is safer, but I would much rather spend my money in a local shop than over the web. Plus, this bookshop, gets books to me faster than a well-known online book retailer!

So, what was the secret of her longevity? How does she keep writing books? The secret is, she tells me in a slightly conspiratorial fashion, is about inclusivity.

“The secret is to make people feel they are not alone.” She elaborates, “Just because they’ve broken up or had a baby, they are still part of the human race.”

Whilst she was talking about her female protagonists, it is quite clear that this is a principle we should all be aiming for in our writing, whatever the genre. If it is not connecting to the audience, what are we going it for?

I recently edited a piece of writing that contained many masculine pronouns, unnecessarily so. The writer, albeit not a native speaker of English, had automatically assumed that those working and buying in a certain sector would be male. It is an easy trap to fall into. All the books and TV series I had growing up featured gender stereotyped roles and attitudes and that wasn’t that long ago.

Editing can make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap. Editors can spot the bias remarks. (that is quite a biased statement but as I am an editor, surely, I can make that one?) Writing should, as the author who signed my book knows, be as inclusive as possible and make everyone feel part of the human race.

Book now for 2024!

Get in touch today to secure your slot for editorial support.

Book now for editing or proofreading in 2024!
%d bloggers like this: