What, and How Are They Doing?
For the past two weeks I’ve posted entries from 13 authors who contributed essays to my anthology A SECOND BLOOMING: BECOMING THE WOMEN WE ARE MEANT TO BE (Mercer University Press, 2017.) I asked them to let us know how and what they are doing during the Coronavirus pandemic. How has isolation affected them? You can READ THEIR ENTRIES HERE, and HERE.
This week I’m beginning to share thoughts from authors who were featured in my second anthology, SOUTHERN WRITERS ON WRITING (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). These entries are quite varied, coming from a poet/novelist who owns a bookstore here in Memphis, a famous novelist and creative writing professor from Wilmington, North Carolina, and a prolific short-story writer and novelist who is Vice Provost and teaches creative writing at a university in Jackson, Tennessee. Enjoy! (Click on each of these authors’ names at the end of their posts to read more about them. BUY THEIR BOOKS AND READ THEM!)
Covid and Me
As an agoraphobic I have been practicing my whole life for this quarantine. Outwardly, little has changed. I go to bed at the same time, rise at the same time, write at the same time. The worst part of staying home is that I miss my kids and my granddaughter, who turned two during the lockdown. I also miss pickleball, and our customers at the bookstore.
But, inwardly, I have been affected adversely, like most everyone else I imagine. I am full of anxiety about health, money, and our afflicted country counting on the class dunce to lead us out of this horror. As a writer, I’ve put working on my new novel on hold, like the world itself. Instead, I am writing more poetry than usual. Perhaps this is because writing a novel is the long haul, and is about continuing, about the future. And what kind of future is on its way? Will we be Morlocks or Eloi? No one knows, of course. But we must think about it. In her novel, Fludd, a Hilary Mantel character says, “I have reached…a human being’s lowest ebb; I have no curiosity about the future.” Even this fearful, so far, I still have my curiosity, which, I think, is a variety of hope. And, though no one is seeking my prescription for getting through this, I have one: Watch TCM and listen to the Beatles.—Corey Mesler
Writing a Novel and Working Against Racism
It’s a sad time in many respects. I’m lucky to be able to work from home on a novel. Family is fine. I’m working against racism in New Hanover County and environs.
Hospital and nursing home workers deserve combat pay and a grand Veterans’ Day each year after this. Hope all are well.—Clyde Edgerton
Covid 19 Will Not Win
My first reaction about COVID 19 was that my life hadn’t changed. I’d been doing the same routine I have always done—wake up around 3:30, get on social media and email, and deal with anything, and then write, edit, or submit publications (At any given time, I’m usually juggling 30 stories to about 150 literary magazines), and then going to work at the University of Memphis, Lambuth campus, all day, but that wouldn’t be a clear picture.
Add to this that my Film class I had been teaching was now online, and I had to figure out how to teach that class online. I had to learn how to use Zoom to upload lectures, and to have group meetings with my students. My wife was furloughed from her job in Human Resources, so she was now at home with our two teens who were now home all day, too, and online. My daughter, a more studious, honors student was fine, but my son prefers the X-box and his games to any sort of work and wasn’t fine at all. Then, there is the mask and gloves and the bottles of sanitizer I use constantly and all the hand washing. I don’t mind all of that, really, but what annoys me is that I can’t read labels in the grocery store without my readers on, and when I put my readers on, my glasses fog up because of the mask and the heat from breathing. It frustrates me to the point that I want to curse!
On a more positive side, my family is healthy and doing well and I have written multiple stories with COVID 19 as a theme, including one titled “Non-Essential” was picked up by New York magazine scheduled to come out later this summer. Also, my piece “Pennies from Heaven” was picked up by a California podcast that will be out in June was a positive piece in response to COVID 19. In sum, I think there are two more short stories that have COVID 19 as a theme and are waiting on publication.
A couple of things that were new for me were using Zoom to do readings of stories that I shared on Facebook. Lots of positive feedback from listeners, so my page is public, and you are welcome to give them a listen if you’d like. Also, I read as part of the KGB Flash Bomb on Zoom with many other writers. We couldn’t meet in New York City’s KGB club in person like we had done a couple of years ago, but we could use the pic as a back drop to our international performance. I also participated in a world-wide Zoom with readers and writers of Smokelong Quarterly. Since there were more than 50 of us, and we were split into groups, it was a great way to meet new writers, hear others read, and be inspired to write even more stories. COVID 19 will not win. Times are difficult, times are truly different, but I found it as a motivation to write more and try new things. I’m looking forward to coming out with my new collection FOR THE CHEESECAKE later this year and some of these newer pieces will definitely be included. Stay healthy and safe, friends.—Niles Reddick