As momentum killers go a global pandemic is not only right up there, but probably the least guilt-inducing end to progress possible. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t suck. It does mean that I might look back at the gap in my output in the future and blame myself. This page is for future me.
It wasn’t you, it was everything.
In February 2020 the tutors on my MA course were striking over pay, pensions, you know the sort of thing. After having spent a previous strike being particularly miserable and doing absolutely nothing I resolved to use the time more productively. And, remarkably, I did. I built this website, I catalogued and released a bunch of my music, I made a neat filing system for my writing, submitted to some competitions and generally got on top of shit. As a serial procrastinator this was quite something.
The Covid lockdown in England began the Friday before I was due to return to uni. Being a pessimist and fond of saying ‘I told you so’ I had been loudly predicting this turn of events for weeks, but sadly events being what they were getting to be a smart arse did very little to make me feel better about things.
Even now, only three months later, so much of the horror of those first weeks feels forgotten. I am asthmatic and information was scarce enough/badly communicated enough that in those first few weeks it seemed entirely possible that if I caught the corona I was on a fast-track to an emergency room. Remember, we were all allowed one short walk a day, which we did to stop ourselves from going mad, but anyone we saw we kept as far away from as possible. I wonder how long we will flinch everytime people on TV hug each other?
I was convinced I was going to die, that my dad was going to die, that the shops would run out of food, that we should get in the car and drive somewhere remote and hole up. I considered how best to crush the skulls of looters attacking our house. I planned the most humane way to put the cats down before we left.
Needless to say, I neglected this website, submittting to competitions, recording music. I was grateful for still recording the podcast, for talking to family every day, to the fact I wasn’t in the house alone.
We are not out the other side yet, but life has returned to normal enough that we have booked holidays and I have started writing again. The fabled ‘second wave’ is no doubt not too far away, but I hope that knowing that the first one didn’t lead to the complete collapse of society I will be able to remain functional. Who knows.
The key thing is, Future Sam, there was a bloody good reason you didn’t do anything for a bit.