Sunday 22 March 2020

Songs of self-isolation

Since people have been reaching out (thank you!), here's a quick update. As COVID-19 spreads, I've been working from home since 13 March, and my partner followed on 17 March, so we're basically self-isolating, only dashing out of the house for supplies, and we expect that to continue for the foreseeable future. Our hearts go out to everybody who can't work from home or who got laid off or people who are in the "at risk" categories - we're doing what we can to support small businesses and make sure the virus doesn't spread because of us.

Obviously, Salon du Livre in Paris was cancelled, so I didn't get to meet my French/Belgian/Francophone readers - I hope to get to Paris later in the year or, worst case, next year.

Amid dealing with the changed circumstances and reorganizing our days and routines, I've been focused on proofreading Mean Machine (was: Counterpunch, was Suckerpunch, was Southpaw), which is a 110k book and is scheduled, I believe, for June. I've gone through the book about ten times now so the very final pass is ironically the slowest because I'm now pretty blind to the actual text. I should finish tomorrow if I stay disciplined for a few days. I think what really strikes me now is how casually everybody in the book touches - that's probably the biggest cultural shift that we're going through.

On the positive side for me personally, my stress levels are actually way down. I'm an introvert, so skipping the cattle train to and from London, the shoulder-to-shoulder Tube, the busy open-plan office where I share a desk with chatty co-workers and a micromanaging boss just dropped my background stress level by at least 50%. It feels like I can relax, possibly for the first time in five years. Which is ironic in a global pandemic, but there goes. My pension fund got slaughtered, and we'll see how much will be left of the economy on the other side of this, but on the positive side (again), "leftist" or "extreme left" policies such as nationalisation and a universal basic income are now mainstream topics (I'm definitely in favour of UBI and think some things should be run and/or controlled by the state). If I received UBI, for example, I'd be freed up to write more books.

We're dealing with the isolation part by reaching out to friends on Skype and I've even signed up for a roleplaying game (which I haven't had the time for before) played via Roll20. Thank Gods for broadband (yet another basic utility that everybody should have). I've been pondering how to support the wider community - should I do "public writing" on Google Docs or maybe use some online streaming service to read my work? But I'm really not a great reader and I'm not currently writing (I will though, once Mean Machine is all wrapped up). I don't have anything fresh to publish that I could fast-track. Many authors are already offering free books - any contribution from me would just vanish in the masses being offered. Please comment if you have any ideas!

I was thinking to deal with the backlog of work - ie for once attempt to get my inbox to zero, do my tax filing and attack the piles of unread books for research, as well as make solid progress on one of the next books. I have online drawing and writing courses I want to get through. I've already completely reorganised my desk and caught up with the laundry.

I'm hoping you're all safe and sound; be kind to yourselves, take this thing at the speed you can cope with. This, too, shall pass. 

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