Writing During a Pandemic
by C F White
We’re all in it at the moment. The unprecedented pandemic that was thrust upon us from around December last year and has hit almost every country and affected us all in some way or another.
I’m in England. So it hit us badly in March. We went into complete lockdown at the end of March 2020 and are only now slowly coming out of it. What did this mean for me personally and for my writing and creativity? Well, I was sent to work from home when my job is mostly being out and about —I do outreach for a university, working with underrepresented groups and disadvantaged children giving them access to higher education. I love my job, but all of a sudden it was very, very different.
Not only that, I have two children. One who had just started secondary school and one in primary who has complex special needs. Having them both with me twenty-four seven and having to homeschool and work full time, I think it’s safe to say my writing took an absolute nosedive.
I was lucky in the sense that Fade to Blank had been written by that point. It was finished. I’d started on book two when we went into lockdown and I think I was about midway point into it. Then I halted. Not only could I not find the time, but also the motivation to write was severely affected. There was so much going on, so much fear and worry and confusion and anxiety in the entire world that me putting words to a story just didn’t feel right.
I hadn’t made the decision on what to do about Fade to Blank at that point, so I sat on the book for a while especially as I was concerned that I might never be able to finish book two if we never came out of lockdown, if the world didn’t go back to normal. I gave myself a break. I didn’t want to. Believe me, I wanted to keep writing. I wanted to go back to how things were. I wanted my kids to go to school. But that wasn’t going to happen. So I gave myself a talking to and realised this time with my family is precious. I should take the time to appreciate it.
So I did. I tried not to think about the days, weeks, months ticking by and me having not written any new words. I asked other authors if they were struggling. I wondered how others were still able to write. I thought myself a failure many, many times. I read a lot. I binge read a few series I’d been meaning to read. I edited a few older works. My audio books came out during this time too, so that gave me some focus.
But I still hated that I couldn’t seem to get any words down to finish book two.
Then, suddenly, about three months in, I realised that this was my normal. This was life as it was going to be for a long time. I’d been waiting for things to snap back to life as it had been, instead of embracing it as it was. So I opened the laptop. I actually started writing something completely different. A new book. A new genre. The words flowed out of me. I wrote about 10k in a few days. That kickstarted me into a new writing process. I clicked out of that book, back into London Lies #2, and let myself go.
I finished the book recently. It’s all done and dusted. And I feel I’ve got myself back again.
Moral of this story is, don’t fight it. When there’s so much else going on, don’t force the words to come. Don’t wallow in guilt that isn’t your fault. Don’t compare yourself as to why others were seemingly business as usual and you’d halted to grinding stop. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and no one knows what goes on behind closed doors and how others are really coping. Stay away as much as possible from social media. During these times, it can be a blessing to keep in contact with those we can’t see but it’s also a curse by giving out misinformation and sucking the joy out of things. Use with caution I say.
Words will be there when they are ready. It’s all about adjusting to a new way of working. We’re all doing it at the moment. My real-life job, I’m adjusting to not being able to go and talk to those kids who are already disadvantaged from their peers and give them that extra boost – I have to do this online now or in a new, innovative way. Just like my writing. I’m getting used to throwing down words to the background of Peppa Pig or staying up later when my kids are in bed to edit what I wrote when I was mid-way through a maths problem with them.
It’s a crazy world out there at the moment. We need to acknowledge that and not put guilt on ourselves for not producing at the speed we used to. Or even finding it hard to escape into a good book, because our brains can’t switch off as quickly as our kindle can. We’ll get there again. We will. We’ll adjust and soon this will be normal.
And we can write when things feel normal.
About Fade to Blank
Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, vilified celebrity Jackson Young enlists the help of a rookie journalist to clear his name and write his biography.
Jackson has a secret though. One he must keep from becoming public. But Fletcher’s dreamy green eyes, Irish drawl and effortless charm makes it hard to suppress those long-buried feelings, even if it could compromise his innocence.
Uncovering the murky past behind Jackson’s rise to fame, Fletcher grows closer to a man he’d once declared as talentless, and their intense attraction starts to affect not only his professional integrity but the life he’d made since moving to London.
Falling for the subject of his book could be fatal for Fletcher, and Jackson should know better than to trust a journalist.
Fade to Blank is the first book in the London Lies trilogy set in 1999, and is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort romantic suspense.
Available at: Amazon
An Excerpt from Fade to Blank
Fletcher drew troubled eyebrows in. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Okay? Okay?” Jackson breathed out a laugh that was more a release of pent up anguish. He’d always been taught to laugh in the face of adversity. He hadn’t been able to do much of that lately. Any flicker of amusement seeping out when in Flaymore would only have been captured by an inmate wanting a name for himself and used against him in the media. He rubbed his stinging eyes. “My girlfriend is dead. Someone strangled her whilst I was passed out in the other room. The world thinks I did it. I’ve spent six months inside because I wasn’t granted bail. This morning I wasn’t told that I was free because they believed I didn’t do it. They just couldn’t prove that I did. I can’t quite see how I would be okay after all that. Do you?”
Perhaps that was too blunt. Too much, too soon? Perhaps all this seeking the truth was coming across more selfish than he’d anticipated. It was. But the world was pointing at him. So he needed to prove his innocence to force people to look at who might have killed her, instead of allowing them to tie the noose around his neck.
And on that thought, his heart almost stopped. So the desperation kicked in. “I need you. Your help.”
Fletcher softened before him. “Okay,” he said. “Go on. Why would I, the fella you tried to knock out due to one bad review, want to write another article about you?”
“I want more than an article. And you’ll have a ready and waiting readership for this. It’ll rocket you to a fortune you never knew existed.”
“Wind your neck in, lad, that’s a touch arrogant there.”
“Arrogance doesn’t equal guilt.” Jackson leapt up from leaning against his bike, new found energy resumed. “Nor does it equal untalented.”
Fletcher glanced away, flicking his gaze back just as quick. “What are you talking here, then? A featured piece?”
Jackson forced a smile. “A full exposé of Jackson Young and why he isn’t the man he’s been depicted as in the media of late.”
“So this is all about you? Not… Tallulah?”
Jackson sucked in a breath at her name. It still stabbed at his heart, strangled his chest, erupted bile into his throat. He wondered if it would ever stop.
Scrubbing fingers across his perspiring forehead, Jackson had to find the right way to explain what he needed. What he had to do before it was too late and this was all hidden under the carpet as so many of the lies and manipulations already had been. He wasn’t sure how far he should go. How much he should admit he knew. There was the whole story. And there was his story.
“I was arrested for something I didn’t do,” he settled on. “I’ve been painted in the media as a monster. Pretty much all my friends and family have abandoned me because they believe people like you.”
“People like me?”
“People with the ability to write words and print them for the public to read, to believe and to act upon.”
“I never wrote about what happened to her. I’ve avoided talking about you, or her, since.”
“I know. Now I want you to.”
Jackson waited for the faint glimmer of understanding to work its way across Fletcher’s face. He had to know this would be the ultimate scoop for him. A writer, a journalist, a gossip columnist…whatever the man claimed to be, if he took this opportunity he could retire.
“I don’t write news. I write…gossip.” It sounded a lot like he hated to say that word, and his gaze blinked away from Jackson toward the glass frontage of London Lights HQ.
“I don’t want you to write for a paper. I don’t want this to be news, or gossip. This is the truth. My truth.”
“I’m not sure my editor will buy into it.” Fletcher sighed. “And if she did, she’d pass it onto the more seasoned journalists.”
“I don’t want your editor. I don’t want this in your poxy magazine.” Jackson spat the word, nodding toward the office block in contempt. He wanted nothing to do with any of that. Especially not London Lights. “This has got to be independent.”
“I don’t understand. I thought you wanted an exposé?”
Jackson stepped forward, a hair’s breadth from Fletcher, so close he could taste the man’s coffee breath. “Ever want to write something different? Something good. Something that could make a name for yourself away from the trash rags? Don’t you want to see your name on a shelf?”
“What type of shelf?”
“A book shelf. I want you to write my biography. So if you ever wanted your fortune handed on a plate, Fletcher Doherty…” Jackson held out his arms. “It’s here.”
About C F White
Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.
Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.
She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.
After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and brought pen back to paper having written stories as a child but never the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, she can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
As part of this blog tour, C F is giving away a full ebook box set of The District Line novels! To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.