As I write this, I am sitting in the parking lot at the grocery store waiting for our weekly grocery curbside pick-up. It struck me, driving over here, how small my world has become since the pandemic began.
Once a week I leave home to go to the post office, then to the grocery store, and then back home again.
Every four weeks, I plug in the Prius to charge up for the next month.
I’ve been doing this now for more than six months, and only on a couple occasions have I gone farther than this two-mile radius from home.
Writing fiction has become my escape from this repetitive, mundane life.
Fiction has always been an escape for me. When I was a kid, I read Lord of the Rings when I was in third grade to get away from a world that was so scary to me at the time.
We had just moved to a new part of town, and I was taken out of the GATE class I’d been a part of for two and a half years and dropped into a class of jackalls and hyenas. The other kids weren’t there to learn, they were there to jeer the teacher. I had my first experience with spitballs, and I didn’t like it.
When I went home, I could escape into the words and worlds of Tolkien, Brooks, Clark, Asimov, McCaffrey and others, worlds so different from my own.
Now, in the midst of pandemic, I find comfort in other worlds of my own. Looking ahead, it’s hard to see a time when things will be different, when this pandemic will be behind us. It crashed down upon us so quickly, so unexpectedly and with such fury.
I tell myself I’m lucky. I’m one of the privileged ones. I have a job that I do at home which still manages to bring us a decent income. I have a roof over my head, a wonderful guy to spend my time with, and occasional puzzle to worry over when I need some distraction.
Still, it’s not easy living such a small life, especially when you’re used to something bigger. I get so tired of being in the same place doing the same things over and over and over again. We get up, we work, we make breakfast, we put away dishes, we clean the house, we work, we have lunch, we wash dishes, we work, we have dinner, we wash dishes, we watch TV, we take a shower, and we go to bed.
Next day, rinse and repeat.
Being creative gives this current, flat life some meaning, and I am grateful for it. For an hour and a half a day, I soar through the sky on the wings of a dragon, walk through the streets of an alien town, and help a lost alien family return home.
I’m also putting together an anthology called “Fix the World,” a collection of stories how we might tackle some of our biggest challenges going forward, and it’s giving me hope.
Fiction is a mirror we can hold up to ourselves to see who we really are, but it’s also one we can step through to escape ourselves. And that’s true whether you are reading or writing it.
So the next time I feel trapped inside these four walls, I’ll crack open my laptop and escape.
To my writer friends, is writing an escape for you in the time of pandemic?