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Coronovirus Blues

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Yes, the world has been hit with a massive challenge, and we are all suffering from the psychological malaise called the "coronavirus blues". As a writer, this will of course impact my work, although exactly how remains undecided. With my writer collaborator Mary Thaler we are preparing to do an episode of our videoblog, "Writing Off The Deep End" on the coronavirus, a kind of early meditation on the issue from a writer's perspective, just to begin to get a handle on the issue.

As I commented to a number of friends, the Coronavirus epidemic feels like science fiction that has just become our everyday reality. I seems that we all stepped collectively through a portal into a parallel universe. Although, to be fair, a number of people warned that this was going to happen one day, or, as they say, 'real soon now'. Well, real soon has become now! Even I wrote about this as one among other events likely to turn up, when I wrote my "Living In the Twenty-first Century" manuscript, in 2006 (which I really need to get published now!).

I noticed on Twitter today that many people seem to think (naively in my opinion) that the world will "go back to normal". Uh uh, I don't think so. It will find a new normal, yes, but the new normal will not look like the old one. Social distancing in one form or another is here to stay. This image that I culled from my stock of illustrations, I feel portrays well the idea of social distancing - here shown in a religious context of people praying, each on their own "tile". (This is a scene from my novel "Gratia : The Second Book of Deo".)

How will the event affect my writing? Not in obvious ways. I'm not about to turn around and write, say, a science-fiction novel that incorporates a virus. Hey, it's not science fiction any more! What I might be more tempted to do is write a story about a historical virus, say, as a way of exploring our contemporary context via another perspective. Or maybe not. There will be lots of people doing this, I suspect.

There will be a role for fiction writers to help people come to terms with the new reality, however. And maybe to help our imaginations find new ways to work with that reality. Imagination has become one of our biggest assets, although it always was so, really. There are also a million stories about how the crisis will end up affecting the disenfranchised, people on the margins of society, and the already huge inequalities which were rife in our pre-coronavirus world. Those are stories that will need to be told.

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