The Year of Fear that Became Creative Redemption

This is about my ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, but it’s also about writing. Oh, but that’s just the beginning because, in the end, it’s about my writing salvation. At the moment the walls were closing in I found purpose.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

How ironic that in November 2019 I wrote a story that foresaw all of this and only now am I realizing it…

My 2020 tale, though, is in the chronology and begins, in retrospect, with foreshadowing.

January. The 9th, to be exact. I was still ecstatic after drafting Protecting the Pneuma Key and Choices for Zephtasha two months before. To that point, Covid was in the background, but that day my doctor’s office handed me a mask and sanitizer, then asked if I’d been to China recently.

Like all good foreshadowing, it was a little unsettling.

Still working part-time, I averaged 3.48 hrs/day editing that month and was proud of myself.

Remember that. It’s important.

In February I suffered a severe flair-up of my Chronic Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. It was a reminder of my vulnerability.

And then March arrived…

MARCH. Last day at work. Photo: CA Hawthorne

At that point, I was keenly aware that Covid attacked where I was weakest. Besides my disease, I’ve permanently lost 33% of my lung capacity.

I attended an event at the university where I worked via a non-profit on the 11th. I enjoyed the event, but the pandemic news overshadowed it.

Literally, on Friday the 13th, I went shopping. Long stretches of shelving were bare. It was a dystopian nightmare that triggered my anxiety. Cases were still few, but my superpower is seeing patterns.

The pattern wasn’t good.

I filed my taxes over the weekend to initiate my refund and took Monday off. I watched the news, checked the pandemic dashboard, and debated. The part-time wage was needed, but was useless if I was dead.

Events moved in fast forward:

The next day, March 17th, a Tuesday, I worked my four hours and gathered some of my things thinking I’d be back in 2-4 weeks.

In an unexpected move on the 19th, my non-profit allowed me to sign-up for sick leave. Best decision of my life.

On the 24th I shopped at 6AM for groceries, the special hour designed for those with health risks.

The new normal had begun, yet I continued to rise early for when work resumed. Meanwhile, while the news grew worse, I deep cleaned and rearranged the apartment.

On April 5th, I made a mask. There was guilt. I was being paid while others lost their jobs. I stopped rising early, instead sleeping longer and longer. I had all day to edit, yet my hours were declining.

Isolation. Uncertainty. Worry. Anxiety.

Depression.

May remains a blur. I stopped doing, well, most everything. How much editing did I do in May? Three hours. Not per day, but total. I had the self-talk of someone on a ledge. I shared it all with my counselor via video. Her indifference was just shy of a shrug.

Long ago, in a different state, I had a counselor named Don who saved my life (I dedicated my book of poetry to him). In a rant directed at my present counselor I compared her efforts to his. The result was more indifference.

JUNE. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Except, having summoned his memory, it stuck. My self-talk became, What would Don have me do? What he’d always stressed. Self-improvement each day.

H’m, how could I improve? On May 31st I started yoga.

June arrived. I started walking again. I launched into editing my six, relatively short novelettes. Problems with novels I’d been unable to wrap my brain around months before developed clear solutions. Silly or not, I kept letting Don guide me to my next accomplishment.

I watched videos on managing anxiety, depression, and childhood PTSD, all of which I was supposedly being treated for.

July was an explosion. I averaged over 5 hours per day editing. I summed it all up in my journal: Yoga gives back.

Worry? After July 4th there was plenty to worry about. Instead, I adopted a mantra: Clear your mind. Let it go. It does not serve you.

I was on fire!

It was time to fully adopt to the new normal. I couldn’t work? Then I’d become a full-time writer. I set my phone on silent and moved it away from my desk. I slashed my time online.

AUGUST. Photo: CA Hawthorne

August began my renaissance. I averaged over eight! hours per day editing seven—days—per—week. I listened to Sarah Brightman’s Dreamchaser over and over again because it’s etherial magic.

Given the novelettes were set in Pannulus I stayed there and edited Protecting the Pneuma Key. The first draft was amazingly clean, but one HUGE new idea surfaced.

Talma Loyal.

I became obsessed with all things 1920s (my grandparent’s era). I listened to endless jazz (Postmodern Jukebox!). I could barely sleep as Talma’s noir story in Duskspell came to life. I wrote backstory stories one after the other even while editing.

Walking and yoga endured almost every day.

Pneuma indeed.

Talma’s tale brushed aside all else.

Then, I was tested.

On September 25th my computer crashed. (Locally, Covid was breaking records each day.)

I stared at the computer knowing I had about sixty seconds before my anxiety overpowered me. In those sixty seconds I planned my self-care. For five days I did three things: slept, read, watched movies. Somehow, in my haze, I coordinated with someone to take the computer to Apple.

1925 Rolls-Royce Springfield Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster. Author:Michel Curi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/119886413@N05/24046256528/

All the while, there was ghost Don and my uplifting videos. There was yoga. There was, Clear your mind. Let it go. It does not serve you.

I kicked the depression trying to take hold out the door.

On October 1st I setup a nest on the couch. By hand, I brainstormed Talma’s story. I wrote more backstory, character sketches, and worldbuilding on my ancient laptop. I’d nap, wake-up, and work.

It was, in short, a heady couple of weeks.

The computer returned on the 15th. I transferred my work, the crash having cost me most of my Talma work from the month before. While on the couch, though, I’d replicated all of it (it was still fresh) and built on it.

Otherwise? The fix cost $100.00.

DECEMBER. Photo: CA Hawthorne

In November, I wrote the novel and a novella. 157K. Walking suffered because of the weather, but not yoga (what Talma would call ilyana pneuma).

In December, I wrote 100K and three novellas.

I entered 2021 still holding tight to my mantra and vow to live as a full-time writer. The non-profit I’d worked for collapsed in December, ending my sick leave. It’s okay. There’s a plan. Writing is my purpose. Yoga remains. Don is silent these days, but still there if I need him.

I fired my counselor.

After everything, how fitting that last week I received my first dose of vaccine.

Since returning to editing after New Year’s, I’ve continued to average over 8 hours/day (more than double the year before). I’m working on my fifth edited novel this year simultaneously with another set in Pannulus. It keeps me fresher. Too, the worldbuilding I’ve long failed to update is getting done.

I have big plans for this year, regardless of what life dishes up.

Last year taught me that, although I may be fragile and vulnerable, I’m still strong. I recognized my weaknesses and compensated. I adapted to the new normal and thrived. No matter my initial reaction, I found a way.

I’m still finding a way and am moving forward with all I’ve learned.

That, everyone, was the plot for Choices for Zephtasha, drafted in November, 2019. It took looking back from the safety of 2021 to realize it.

Please, everyone, everywhere, be everwell.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
This entry was posted in Main Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s