I never wanted to live in interesting times. Interesting times should happen to other people, far away.

The truth is, I’m starting to believe I’m a main character, and whoever is writing my story is a very …. interesting writer indeed.

Looks up at the ceiling. Shouts “this better have a happy ending. No, I don’t mean the final ending. I know the hero always dies.”This should be a post on how to write through it all. Because 2020 really has had everything.

But the truth — I know, shocking — is that I don’t write through it all. In fact, if I’m stressed my subconscious locks up tighter than a strong house, and if I try to write what comes out is not even coherent.

This year — this d*mned year — I’ve found myself blocking on art and non-fiction more often than not.

The good news: Personal stuff is easing up. Supposing I can get the medical test scheduled for the 23rd and that it is okay, that will be another big hurdle cleared.  We have maybe three or four of these in the next month and a half, make-or-break things that we desperately need to turn out all right. A couple already have.  Maybe we’ll get lucky.

The bad news: all of which is complicated by our amazing national situation, where we seem determined to destroy our economy in the name of …. what? 80 deaths?

This is a new way of handling epidemics that are actually remarkably non-lethal. For our next trick, we’re going to commit suicide when we have the sniffles. I mean, given this response, we should all hole up in our houses, behind a double wall of toilet paper rolls pretty much every year during flu season. Or, as our Lords and Rulers are now saying, through the summer too, until flu season comes around again.

Weirdly “having had just about enough of this” does not help with the writing too. Most probably because writing is not a sharp implement I can hit people on the head with.

So… what does one do, when the writing shuts down?

I don’t know. I spend years in this state when the stress is bad enough.

It’s not block. the stories are there. I even KNOW them. I just can’t word well enough to write them. And my mind moves like a hamster on a wheel, and I can’t concentrate long enough.

Jerry Pournelle said that bad times are good for entertainers.

Lucky us, because the overreaction to the virus thing will get us plenty of those.

So, you know what? I’m going to go to bed.

And in the morning I’m going to get up and I’m going to write.  Even though my mind wont’ stay still.  It might read like those paintings done by chimps, but it will be words.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

Before the evil times come.  And maybe, just maybe, a wall of words will keep them at bay.

This will fall a lot harder on movie companies, it will probably affect game companies, it will definitely affect bookstores and libraries.

But fortunately in these interesting times we don’t need any of those.

So somehow we’ll find our way through the stress, duct tape kids and pets to give us the space to work, and we’ll go on.

It’s what I’m going to try. I’ll tell you in the evening how well it went.

And now, stop reading this.

Go to your stations and WRITE.



  1. hmm gee i wonder why certain parts of the government would think it is better for us to all be locked in our houses for months…

  2. Instead of writing Familiars, I’m working on a light fantasy bit. Something completely different, that requires me to blend some disciplines I don’t usually play with (alchemy and industrial chemistry).

    I’ve been reading some fluff and some history, and I think this is a good time to tackle that book on Roman sanitation systems. Why? Because it is so different from everything going on around us. It is practical, interesting, and archaeology. And maybe I’ll splash out on that new dinosaur book. Because it is dinosaurs.

    I’m also doing Day Job work, even though this is Spring Break. Just in case.

    1. Ooh, Alchemy and Industrial Chemistry sound fun. I think by the latter you are talking about what the academic world often calls chemical engineering. I’ve lately been noodling a little on ‘what if magic had some interaction with fluid mechanics’, and the chemical engineers have some interesting ways to think about fluid mechanics.

      I’ve been reading some specialized histories, because it has helped a little with my main business, while being different enough to take me away from my worries.

  3. I’m “writing as a practice” this week, although so far its been mostly reading. Today I have to set up a network and a bunch of PCs, but it will be in a nice bug-free location with congenial company, so that will be nice.

    Going back to bed when you can’t brain is a great idea. I’ve been doing it all week. Get up, take the dog out (He needs me to guard him while he takes a dump, we’re calling it Poo Security. This dog, so twitchy…) have a coffee, read for a bit, lie down and pass out, repeat.

    On reflection, could be worse.

  4. I am the main character in my own story. I am the first person PoV. I am the protagonist. I’m not the writer, but I have accepted that. I’ll just play my part and see what happens.

    Life is full of weird plot twists.

  5. I’ve been taking refuge in writing a new Luna City – that small, eccentric South Texas town where everything happens for the best…
    that and the garden. And painting the trim in the hallway, and waiting for Neighborhood Handy Guy to come and install the new back door that I painted yesterday.

  6. I feel a bit like my creative brain is loosening up. I’ve had some weird/bad dreams, not the sort where I feel bad when I wake up but usually with bad stuff happening in them (does anyone have *good* dreams where happy stuff happens, like you’re a princess or you win a million bucks, because I don’t think I’ve even heard of that). In any case, I wake up and think, well, maybe my brain juice has been jiggled loose and that’s a good thing.

    I also read through some older manuscripts and bad stuff is happening (naturally) but the one character is such a Mary Sue! She struggles and is in a hard situation but she makes all the smartest and wisest choices. I was about laughing at myself when I realized it. But darned if I don’t like her. It’s sort of nice imagining making the right choices and being wise. And every moment isn’t spent in her POV so there is some relief while we follow other characters who are mostly wise and make the right choices. 😛

    The antagonist is the situation itself so the bad guys are just bad at normal levels, they make the wrong choices and make things harder dealing with the situation. They do some evil things, true.

    But mostly all the different people are shown taking care of their own separate corner of the events in good ways.

    And I think I might like my little cast of Mary Sues facing a unfathomable situation and just dealing with it.

    1. I’ve had good dreams. I’ve also had dreams where bad things happen but the story is interesting enough that I want to know the rest. I’ve even had insanely nasty dreams where the emotional load does not match the content, so they’re not nightmares. (And a little of vice-versa, where something innocuous gets an overlay of panic and terror.)

      1. The bad dreams with an emotional load are the worst because you wake up with the *physical and chemical* affects of events that never happened.

    2. I have good dreams. The one that semi-recurs (so I remember having it) is chatting with my grandparents at their farmhouse. Then, in the dream, I remember they’re dead. They give me a wistful smile and fade away. I’ve had the dream frequently enough that I notice when I notice that they’re dead and try not to give it away just so the dream continues; it doesn’t work.

  7. Long interview with a doctor:
    He notes in particular that people aren’t dying from the respiratory effects; they’re dying when it attacks the heart, and that some of the recovered have permanent damage. It’s not the Black Plague, but it’s about on par with the Spanish Flu, and rather more contagious. Only real diff is that nowadays we have much better medical support.

  8. Write the stories anyway. Then when things ease up all you need to do is re-write\edit.

  9. I continue to maintain that authors, as a group, are splendidly positioned as compared to many others in the entertainment industry. And that we, meaning the authors in this group, should seriously consider each writing a short story to be included in an anthology, in the style of Boccaccio’s Decameron. Reality has written the classic Framing Tale for us. SOMEBODY (insert favorite $Deity Here) is whacking us on the head with a clue-by-four.

  10. Meh. I think the current writers finally wrote so many dystopias that reality is trying to warp to fit.

    I aim for something a lot more fun. Or at least counter-trend. Reality needs us!

      1. No kidding. That’s been the Story for so long in pop culture that, well, people are unwittingly conditioned. All the more reason for Human Wave and Superversive writers to write more and push more.

  11. I write regardless because I find editing to be a much easier process, even if I delete 10,000 words and write some more. I feel like, “well, I finished it at least, now I just have to edit.”

  12. For our next trick, we’re going to commit suicide when we have the sniffles.

    Have you been reading the Public Health textbooks I’ve been trying to get the medical schools interested in? The one with the substance abuse treatment section that cribs heavily from Eichmann and Blokhin? Because what you describe sounds markedly like what I haven’t written, yet.

    /joking Much too lazy to do this when I have other fish to fry.


  13. I’m going to be starting a new blog for an experiment in writing. Think of it as WKRP in Cincinnati meets The Last Centurion, on the Moon.

    Once I get things going, I’ll announce it in the usual places. Right now a bunch of my time and mental energy is going to the stress of not knowing how many of our conventions will be canceled or rescheduled, and my office still being in disarray. But I’m wanting to have it up and running by the weekend.

    1. If you’re on FB join cancelcon. We’re in the process of subverting it. I don’t know how you get permission to be in the seller’s room, but you can try.

  14. Sluggish. Switching between stories often but probably not enough to cope with the stress. (The muse needs more time on the back burner when I’m stressed out.)

  15. I am currently recovering from surgery and cannot drive or lift anything. Fortunately, my local grocery store offers home delivery–except they don’t, not right now. Evidently so many people are panicked about the C19 virus that they’ve crashed the delivery service website.

    In addition, my followup visit with my surgeon has been cancelled, because the hospital is shutting down for everything except C19 cases, just on the off-chance we get any C19 cases.

    Everyone is so hysterical about a completely hypothetical medical emergency that people who have actual medical problems are getting screwed.

    1. In addition, my followup visit with my surgeon has been cancelled, because the hospital is shutting down for everything except C19 cases, just on the off-chance we get any C19 cases.

      Happening here, too, although a return call to say things like, oh, the heart surgery a family friend was scheduled for was not an elective— this in a county with zero cases, which is several counties away from any known cases, but they’ve hit triple digit tests searching desperately for one– is going to cause more deaths than the virus.

      1. I had to tell the surgeon that this surgery is not elective. Question, WHO has elective surgery to take a divot out of their nipple?
        Are these people insane?

        1. ok i will be nicer… you can’t because you’re supposed to come here so you can make pilgrimage through the USAian high holy sites.

    2. Yeah. I’m having exploratory surgery for something that is TIMELY shall we say (I.e. the probability is cancer, and it’s already been delayed 2 months to follow the daisy chain of recommendations and some doctors not thinking it’s serious and… And two months in this case can be the difference between life and death) It’s been postponed two more days because my surgeon is in quarantine. Going to a stranger.
      I told Dan I’m going to die of breast cancer because of a false Chinese Flu.

        1. Dan says I’m not allowed to die this young and reminded me I promised to obey him.
          Honestly, dying doesn’t scare me. Dying is easy. It’s the therapy that I’m terrified of and multiple surgeries, which will eat the writing.
          I might not be normal.

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