Last weekend’s paper carried an interview with Marian Keyes, in which she said that lockdown in the middle of a global pandemic is not the time to be particularly productive. It’s especially not a good time to write the novel you’ve always been planning – because we’re in fight or flight mode all our brain energy is being used to ‘scan the horizon for danger’ and therefore it’s not safe to let your imagination run riot. Aside from the fact it’s never safe to let my imagination run riot – I’d never get anything done – I’m relieved to hear this, my own novel still being in the early planning stages. Early as in ‘I plan to write a novel one day’ (to add to the memoir I’ve already written and one day will edit and publish).
There have been many suggestions to see this period of isolation as an opportunity to develop new skills. I think it’s dependent upon the skill you wish to learn. I sometimes feel it would be useful to know how to perform a frontal lobotomy, but when I suggested I practice on my bubble sharer he wasn’t too keen on the idea. It’s fair to say he was downright opposed to it. And I’d love to learn to ride a horse. Body corporate rules allow ‘one small pet’ but there are complaints in the building about the mess such can make, so I’m not sure they’d appreciate what a horse can do.
I have a few existing skills I’d like to develop. Well, when I say ‘skills’ I mean something I’m vaguely adequate at and would like to be remotely good at. Typing, for instance. Back in my career days, writing a training course, I worked with someone who could type. We took turns at the keyboard, her stints smooth and my dictated words flowing from her fingertips. Mine not so much, a lot of ‘hang on!’ and, ‘sorry, can you say that again’. Once, for a laugh, we read out loud what I’d actually typed. It took us a few days to convince our manager, who came in as we were both wiping our eyes and trying to gain control of ourselves, that we didn’t need counselling for stress-related hysteria.
I already have enough trouble fitting what I do into the hours I have. Neil announced yesterday that he’s finished processing all his holiday photos (there were a lot) and sorting them into groups with the aim of printing a book or two. I haven’t even looked at mine. Not. A. Single. One. (I’ve written a lot of words though.) I have a sneaking suspicion I may still have some to look at from our last big holiday. In 2014.
My mission today is to make those of you who haven’t achieved much recently feel better. I haven’t been at all productive in the last four weeks. Unless you count the successful completion of three (count ‘em, three!) jigsaw puzzles. And the consumption of a lot of Tim Tams. And a fair bit of wine. Oh, and I made a chocolate cake yesterday.
Okay, maybe I’ve achieved more than I thought.