Now folks can write but they aren’t (hmm)

But are you writing? I noted several remarks online where people are saying they are too worried and frantic to sit and write. They’re anchored to 24-hour news, waiting for the latest body count and what’s happening next.

So. . . let me get this straight. . . when things are busy and normal, you don’t have time to write. Then things are abnormal and locking you at home, you can’t make yourself write.  – Hope Clark

Wikipedia Graphic

It’s really an understatement to say that COVD-19 has disrupted a lot of things. We’re all curious about potential lockdowns and potential vaccines. But sitting in front of a 24-hour news channel watching for updates not only seems like a waste of time, but is the kind of behavior that probably creates more hysteria than what the nation is already coping with.

Frankly, I’m a little tired of people asking why we didn’t have 100000000 testing kits (much less a cure) in stock for a disease nobody knew anything about prior to December. I guess people are watching too many medical dramas on TV and are used to health issues that are solved within an hour.

I agree with Hope Clark, assuming that lockdowns aren’t making us broke or sticking us in long lines to buy toilet paper, we can use our self-quarantines and social distancing to get some other stuff done: tidy up the garden, clean out the garage, finish that novel.


Many of Thomas-Jacob Publishing’s Kindle editions are on sale throughout March for 99₵. The sale includes two of my novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Special Investigative Reporter.”


Protect your writing time

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you. ~Zadie Smith

Perhaps this will seem like a surprising time to talk about protecting one’s writing time. We’re all facing the possibility of empty store shelves, prospective quarantines, disruptions of travel plans–not to mention getting COVID-19.

Many of those who write say it’s as important as breathing and that they can’t live without it. I’ve written before about the challenges the stay-at-home writing spouse has with protecting his/her time. If that time is not bringing income into the household, then the 8-5 spouse/partner who is supporting the family might assume the writing is a hobby and can be disrupted as need be with calls to pick up something at the store, prepare dinner for the boss with little notice, keep the house clean, and do all the shopping.

Now, as the U.S. has raised the threat level of the virus from “What, me worry?” to “Find out who’s to blame,” conserving time to write will probably become more difficult; if you were around during the 1970s gasoline shortage, then you know that thousands of people spent a good portion of each week trying to find a service station with any gasoline and, once they did, there might have been a wait of an hour or more in a long line.

If this happens again with such essentials as toilet paper and food, then trips to the grocery store might take many hours per week. Obviously, the family comes first, whether it’s food or safety. The 8-5 working spouse might get furloughed if they work for a company whose product or service takes a huge hit from the emergency.

Yet, I encourage you to write and/or do the online research or library research your stories need because this is what defines you as a person whether it’s bringing in money or not. Yes, I know it’s difficult seeing multiple hours of daily writing time collapse down to an hour or 30 minutes. Perhaps your approach shifts gears from poetry or a period novel to something like “Pandemic, a Diary.”

Even stolen moments of time can be enough to keep you breathing and give you a reason to hope that when the pandemic’s over, you’ll be a fulltime storyteller again.



Getting away from it all (unplugging from the grid)

DCFC0028.JPGWriters often bemoan that fact that their days are fractured like a puzzle just out of the box because they need (want, are addicted) to checking online news, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodle+ and a variety of apps, newsletters and news sites multiple times a day.

I’m not sure writers are unique. Some people are so addicted to the grid that they can’t sit and have a conversation on what (we hoped would be) a quiet evening over dinner without constantly checking e-mail and/or answering every incoming cell phone call. It (this “need” to stay plugged into the grid as though we’re part of the BORG on Star Trek) is part of today’s world.

The need isn’t new. Twenty years ago we were asking why people went camping or hiking and had to take their portable TV sets and boomboxes with them (“serenading”) everyone else in the campground. This past summer while hiking in Glacier National Park, I saw more than half the other hikers had their earphones in for music rather than giving themselves an hour or so for experiencing the natural sounds from wind to water falls to birds. No doubt, they would also miss the warning growl of a grizzly hear on the trail as well.

As a writer, I feel the need to keep up (in case Hollywood calls with a movie deal, I guess) and if I’m not careful, I feel over-informed and maxed out by the day’s constant flow of largely extraneous input.

Perhaps we need to devise our own 12-step programs for spending less time plugged into everything else. An hour here and an hour there might get us used to being comfortable with bird songs, silence and the usually drowned out voice of our inner selves. An Internet and cell phone diet, perhaps, for enjoying the writing we’re doing, the books left to be read, or the sound of the wind through the pines.

In time, perhaps we’ll be comfortable with ourselves again.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of novels and short stories that take both protagonists and readers away from it all, including “Emily’s Stories” and “The Seeker.”