As the pandemic shifts, writers navigate the new normal

Tzivia and her brother reunited

by Tzivia Gover

This spring, I drove through three states and rode a ferry to visit my father, stepmom, and brother for the first time in what feels like forever. Here in the northeastern US, this is the current pandemic trend. Thanks to vaccinations and dropping rates of infection, many of us were finally able to hug loved ones, sit down inside a restaurant, or share a car ride with a friend. Even while we wonder when the next pandemic shoe might drop–for now it’s a joyous relief.
But when I sit in circles with other writers, I hear some regrets too. “This might sound crazy or insensitive, but I have to admit, all the solitude of the past year was great for my writing,” one colleague told me. “Now there are all these new demands on my time.”

We all agree that personal growth shouldn’t come at the expense of anyone’s health, life, or livelihood. And for sure no one is sorry to see the number of Covid-19 cases drop in their region. But in this year-plus of seismic changes, every small improvement is a big deal.

There are the downsides, (trivial though they are in the light of the big picture), too: returning to the office, traffic, and slacks instead of sweats. For writers that list includes other obligations encroaching on the imposed solitude that we’d grown used to, and that allowed many of us time to write. So, we’re re-balancing our routines as new possibilities are opening up. And many of us are struggling to preserve some of that precious time alone we need to create, while we welcome back the time with others we’d been craving during the months of shut down.

As for me, I noticed when preparing for my recent trip, my packing “muscles” were so rusty I forgot to bring deodorant! But I did stuff an envelope containing a chapter of the book I’m working on into my duffle bag. I’d gotten used to writing every day, and I didn’t want to break my streak — even though in the past I’d leave my “work” at home when visiting family.

We can retain some things of value from this nightmare pandemic, like taking time for our inner lives and answering our call as writers. Perhaps we can preserve some space in our days for reflection on the page, even as we pack suitcases again and reconnect with the world beyond our keyboards.

So, enjoy those hugs…and keep your notebook close at hand.

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