You aren’t the first human to be in quarantine and odds are, you will not be the last. Every crisis throughout history – or at least the ones humans witnessed and endured – sparked fierce creativity. Think Shakespeare in 1605, cooped up to escape plague, scratching away through the night at a play he would call “King Lear.” Edgar Allen Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death” is such rich ground that 150 years later, the great film director Akira Kurosawa left a treatment of it behind when he died; it’s now in production. (This is the fourth film treatment of the story in addition to its countless editions and comic book treatments.)
Fear is both a motivator – dear God, I was here! I existed! – as well as life-killing; you get to choose how you use it. Try deep belly-breaths until your heart-rate slows then pick up a book.
Reading requires a stillness inside, a quiet mind to take in words and create your own internal pictures. Those pictures engender emotion and take you from your reality to experience other realities without threat. With books, you can travel, go to war, live in colonial Africa, shoot the moon. Each time you change your reality with that book, the world becomes a little more known to you, a little less scary.
Being a reader is THE requirement for being a writer. The more you traffic in words, the more you’ll want to traffic in words; its’ a terrific addiction! Not only do you become a better communicator, you become less afraid as you understand more. As you read and write, time slips away; there’s no quarantine boredom in a writer’s house!
As writers, editors and publishers, we live books every day; we love this life. Use what we do everyday to pass your quarantine. At the end of it, who knows, you might have the next Why the Crawdads Sing.
Coronavirus Journal: The world will only support so many pandemic thrillers, but your micro-look at coping will serve as powerful document to future generations of your family. This is big history and you’re helping to write it.
Read a Big Book: My nephew, at home sick with coronavirus, just finished Infinite Jest, becoming the first person to do so. Take a long ride with Anna Karenina (anything Tolstoy), Dickens, the Ferrante Napoli quartet, Yukio Mishima. Always wanted to read Lord of Rings? Now is your moment.
Write That Book You’ve Been Thinking about for Ten Years: If not now, when?
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