Baby birds chirp from moss-draped oaks and ducklings scurry after their mothers at the pond. Blooms explode in beds. Wildflowers pop up in yards. Butterflies and bees flit from my sunflower to Purple Queen, then travel to my neighbor's yard to sample their plumbago.
I'm energized by nature, so you'd think all this new life and activity would inspire my brain to spin story. It hasn't. A couple weeks ago, I brainstormed a story with my agent and I was excited by the ideas it sparked. The story had a relatable protagonist, an intriguing premise and the potential for a satisfying outcome. The setting was moody, mysterious and a little quirky. There was a touch of magic.
The magic grew and grew, and the plot took unexpected turns. As the story developed, my shoulders and neck tensed, and panic crept into my head. I asked myself why and had a revelation.
I had allowed my imagination to veer too far from my life experience, and the story began to feel forced. For me to write authentic story, it needs to grow from people and experiences I relate to, and the magic needs to evolve organically. It's a valuable lesson. It helps me know myself better as a writer, and I hope it will help me write better books. But it wan't easy giving up that story.
I'm restless and anxious when I'm not productively creating. I have another story started. It's growing slower than I'd like, but I'm trying to be patient. I think I'll go outside and commune with the flowers and bees. Maybe they'll buzz plot to my muse!
It's Day 60 for us in quarantine. Even though we both worked from home before the Stay at Home order, things have changed. We keep running lists of supplies needed, review online orders before we send, and grocery orders the night before in case we need to add anything. We no longer shop in stores. We use drive through pick up for groceries, pharmacy and home improvement needs.
In some ways, life is the same. We still walk every morning, start work at our individual desks and watch TV in the evenings. But the TV we watch is aimed at shows that uplift. And even though we care deeply about the upcoming election, we can't seem to tolerate politics. I used to enjoy the opinion section of the newspaper. Now, I skip it. I miss eating out with family and friends and I worry about restaurant workers. I miss getting to know every dog we meet on our walks. I miss taking our animals to the vet and chatting with a whole office of animal lovers. I miss meeting with artist and writer friends. I look forward to Skype visits, but it doesn't compare to the real thing.
We're the first generation to drain a country of sanitizers, toilet paper and surgical masks. We're the first to experiment with a wide variety of hand sewn masks. The first generation to populate the internet with an abundant array of free entertainment and education. Artists are lifting spirits. Healers are healing, caretakers caring, teachers teaching, everyone giving what they can.
The sky is clearer, animals roaming freer and the earth sighing.
Today, my state lifted the Stay at Home order and began opening businesses. But we don't feel safe going out. We order more soap, sanitizer and masks, and we talk about the future with question marks.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor