In the spring of 2020, the world was flipped upside down. We never saw it coming. We never could have guessed a virus would alter our lives in the worst kind of story – one without a hero to swoop in and save us from our fate.
The change in our world upset our circadian rhythm. Those of us not already working from home had to adjust to the infiltration of work life in our personal and creative space. How did that affect our writing? Or did it? For some, there was little to no change; for others, like myself, I had to restructure my time, figure out the hours spent on work versus the hours that belonged to me. I didn’t have a separate room to divide the two elements. It took some time for me to divorce my creative life from my work life, and when I did, I noticed my writing had changed a little bit.
I turned back to poetry, a genre I haven’t worked on in years. I wrote pandemic essays on daily life to help me cope with a reduction in social interactions and navigating the restrictions imposed on us by health authorities – rightly so. The stop of the spread was, and continues to be, top priority as we crash into our second wave.
It took some time after the initial upheaval to restore my desire and motivation, but just like getting past those creative blocks that often impede our work, I found the writing still there, waiting for me. Throughout the summer and fall I worked on my novel, took some workshops, connected with other writers, attended a virtual writing conference, wrote short stories, and revised poems I’d written long ago. I found going back to reconstruct unfinished pieces inspired me to move forward with new inspiration. Those pieces presented me with a new perspective on the transformative powers of writing, reminding me why I come to the desk and make the tremendous effort to sustain a writing life.
For some writers, the pandemic pushed them to new heights of productivity – for others it put a pause on their creative output. But no matter which way we go, we are always submersed in our creative life in some small way, and even during a pandemic, the writing will always be there, waiting for us to revive and rejuvenate it in any form.
I submitted four pieces in two months. Two are still pending. One was rejected. One was accepted. 50/50 are not bad odds for this writer, especially during a pandemic.
My latest publication, Gasoline and Water with Boston Literary Magazine.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.