I have the most wonderful news. My schedule’s looking emptier than it did a few months back, you see. All my plans have been cancelled and my work hours are being cut. I haven’t seen my loved ones in over two weeks and that’s not likely to change soon. I’m positively thrilled: think of all that extra time I’ll have. All those empty hours. Acres of time. Indoors. Yeah. This book might be finished sooner than expected.
change of plans
I have been working from home for two weeks now and it’s… fine. My flatmate has also been wfh and we are still on speaking terms, so that’s good. I’m not an outdoors person. I like television, video games, books (obviously) and the occasional theatre or cinema trip. I’ll go to the pub if you give me enough notice. I’ve experienced periods of unemployment, so spending most of my time indoors isn’t a big deal to me.
And yet. I still had the option to go out, before. Options are usually nice things to have. Options are like the herbs and spices of routine – you don’t need them all the time, but every now and then, you’re freaking thrilled about that jar of rosemary at the back of the cupboard. At the moment my options for going out are pretty much salt and pepper: local supermarkets and well-stocked little corner shops no one else seems to ever visit. (And you should visit them, those smaller, family-owned places, if for no other reason than they have copious supplies of toilet roll.)
Events are being cancelled. Businesses are being shut down. Projects I’ve been working on during my 9-5 are being cancelled or postponed. TV shows are halting production. Album launches are being cancelled. Who knows how much longer we’ll be able to get non-essentials (clothes, games, toys etc.) delivered before someone decides they’re not essential enough to merit delivery?
Makes me glad for this whole internet thing. I can work online, communicate online, and deliver content online. With friends and colleagues all checking on one another more regularly than we ever did before, I actually feel more connected than I used to. I started playing the new Animal Crossing game – you build a town, befriend the other characters, collect costumes and decorations. And you can VISIT other players. OUTDOORS. With TREES and FLOWERS and things, remember those? Over the weekend I had four virtual visitors – people that I may not otherwise have spent time with. Couple that with video calls, phone calls and group chats and you’re looking at one of my most social weekends in recent memory.
business as usual
I was looking into paperbacks again the other week. I always flip-flop over this idea. The number of people who have told me that they want paperbacks of my work has always been pretty low, but their argument follows that I have to create a demand by providing them in the first place. The logistics of deliveries is more pertinent than ever at the moment, and I can safely say I’m glad I’m not lumbered with boxes of my own books and no way to ship them. I know that’s not how things are done nowadays, but can you imagine if it were? My own production schedule is what it’s always been: finish the book, click a few buttons and it’s available. Anywhere.
So, the book isn’t cancelled. Far from it. It’s back with a vengeance. I’m not going to be one of those annoying, “positive” people who says that you should make the most of this extra time to do the things you always wanted to do. (Well, there, I suppose I’ve just said it. But I didn’t mean it, I promise.) What I am going to say is: look at all the things that have changed for the better lately. Advances in medicine, technology and business that are going to have an impact for years to come. Now that we’ve all figured out that the internet is an essential utility, and that job you were told couldn’t be done from home actually could, what next?
Sure, we’re all stressed, and antsy. Bide your time. Listen to the experts. Don’t give in to the anger. I’ve had people trying to pick arguments with me. Don’t rise to that. Let it go. Sure, it’s annoying that we have to queue outside of shops now, but those shops have more stuff in because the system calms people down. My work-life balance might be up in the air, but I am still able to do the thing I most want to do, and what’s even better is knowing that I’ll likely be able to distribute it as normal when it’s finished.
Bovine Intervention will be up for pre-order in a couple of months. It’s about a group of misfits who swore they’d never speak to each other again, but who actually end up speaking quite a lot more, because they’re friends no matter how hard they try to deny it. They help each other out, and try to do more good than harm. And they can do it all without standing two metres apart, or sitting at a kitchen table for eight hours a day. I think that’s the sort of escapism we all need right now.
Everything is weird and I haven’t seen anyone but my flatmate for about two weeks. Stay indoors, if you can, and eat plenty of vegetables. Follow the advice.
What I’m reading: Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence, #5) by Max Gladstone. This series is absolutely glorious, intricate, diverse and charming. Magic is legally binding, and spells are contracts. The major players in the series are solicitors and fixers. I’m glad there’s at least one more book after this one.
What I’m watching: Harlots. This Victorian drama is filling the void that Ripper Street, Penny Dreadful and Frankenstein Chronicles left behind. Also reminds me a lot of Black Sails. It’s funny, soapy and succinctly explains why each character does what they do.
What I’m listening to: Sigrid – most of her tracks are pretty upbeat and all of them feel fresh, modern and contemplative. Just what is needed right now.
What else: the promise of Mario and Nier remakes, and Jasper Fforde's new book, are honestly sustaining me
See you soon! (virtually, duh)