Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
July 3, 2020

We're Celebrating Our Readers Today

It is an understatement to say it has been a hard several months around the world. In the face of this pandemic, many of our readers here at WITS are dragging. Many of us behind the scenes are dragging. All of us are working hard to keep our spirits up to write another day.

The Oprah quote above resonates particularly this year. We've all struggled, and we've all found unexpected strength in our struggles.

Here in the US, with COVID case counts spiking, things are feeling particularly hard. The usual Independence Day rules do not apply this year. There are no parties, no fireworks, no parades. Health officials are universal in their message: “The most patriotic thing Americans can do this year is to stay at home.” Everyone does not agree.

But this isn't a political post, this is a "how are you doing, really" post. We truly want to know.

Today we choose to celebrate YOU, our writing family online. We are blessed that you choose to spend time with us every week, every month, every year. We want to know how you are doing.

Some writers have told me they do pretty much the same thing they did before the pandemic - stay home and write. Other writers have told me their world has changed and they are fighting to make a living. Still more have told me the state of the world has plummeted them into despair.

We hear you. We see you. We absolutely believe in you, and your ability to dig deep to find your story.

But we do want to know...How are you doing? How are you really doing? Are you peaceful, worried, coping, struggling, writing, blocked, crazy, or something else? We would love to know if you are willing to share.

What are you struggling with? And what unexpected strengths have you found?

Big Hugs to YOU,
Your Team at Writers In the Storm

35 comments on “We're Celebrating Our Readers Today”

  1. Thanks for asking. I like how you encouraged us to ponder the problems as well as the positives. My family is doing fine so far. I am retired, and my children have their jobs, so for that we are thankful. I love to read and review books-so that’s been easy to do. And I learned that I can make 3 meals a day, for a variety of family,.for almost 4 months now! I started playing the piano again. I stopped watching the news. Thanks for your posts!

    1. I too have stopped watching the news, Jena. And wow, just WOW, to you. The piano? And three meals a day for lots of people? I'm so impressed! I have always been the one to cook in my family - it's just not anyone else's thing. But there has been a lot of DoorDash during this pandemic!

  2. Thanks for checking in. My daughter who just graduated medical school worked 36 hours straight on her very first on-call weekend. I worry about her. To keep my spirits up, I have stopped "doom scrolling" through the bad newscasts and social media posts. I was not inspired to write, but have come through the other side and made a goal of about 1,000 words just to get kick-started again. I am blessed to live in a less congested area and have my animals to keep me smiling.

    1. I'm so happy you have some animals and peaceful times where you are. This pandemic has kind of throttled social media and newscasts for me. We're writers (aka Sensitive Peeps) - I just couldn't take it.

      Your daughter is a rockstar! She's gone from the frying pan to the fryer with this pandemic and God bless her. I wonder what all those new doctors will have to say in 10 years about this experience. You tell her, we all say a huge thanks. Our medical teams around the world have been heroes.

  3. Thanks. I can always count on WITS to think of ALL of us, and know it is appreciated. As for the COVID thing, I am happy to report no cases in my family. Two exposures, (hubby and granddaughter) but no infection. For the first couple of months my mind just would not function. I could not write, or even read. But it is slowly coming back - thank God. But civil unrest is what is really causing havoc in the family. We have members not speaking to each other because they take different sides. And it is tearing apart my heart and my family. Why can't we all just love each other?

    1. I am SO SORRY the civil unrest is causing a rift in your family. That's heartbreaking. I hope y'all can heal and get better. I'm happy to hear you've avoided the virus. We haven't had Covid in our house either, but we're in Southern California so we're still locked down and on high alert.

      I've been reminded again and again during this pandemic about the importance of self care, and putting on your own mask first. I hope having your writing come back helps to heal YOU. Stay strong!

  4. Had just started my next book when the pandemic hit, and between that and the protests, I couldn’t write anything, not even in a journal, or emails to friends, for nearly three months. My household requires no-contact to the greatest extent possible. I buried myself in working in the garden, cleaning closets, the basement, the garage, redecorating the living room, etc. Then an old friend sent an unexpected email to thank me for my last book, and hoped there would be another. It took me a couple of weeks to reply, but when I did, I went on and on. The dam broke. I resumed writing (the book, the journal, and everything else) the following morning, and feel much better for it. Or maybe it’s just because I’ve finally gotten the hang of ordering groceries online?

    1. Meg, this comment made me smile. Not only do you get a high-five for figuring out online groceries, you went through the valley and started climbing back up the mountain. Good for you! And a huge round of applause for the friend who showered you and your writing with love. There is nothing like an old friend. I hope the words continue to flow for you. You have a book to finish!

  5. Yes. Struggling. The sheer volume of writers and wannabe writers has clogged a review system to the point where a meager number of authors get published; only the best known have contracts and advances. Everyone else is grappling with finding and agent or publisher, then trying to market/promote the project electronically. I guess we should all be grateful for e-mail and blog sites. I tried for 11 years to get an agent to read a manuscript for my 9 non-fiction and fiction projects. One of the many rhetorical questions is: "And how many hours did YOU spend putting together your 40-page proposal?" Try doing that for 5 non-fiction books and getting exactly ZERO requests to read the manuscript. You call. You follow up. And you hear: "Oh, the writing is fine, but you have no platform." So, unless you are on TV, been elected to office or landed a jet on the Hudson River, you're not going anywhere with agents. I've written 4 novels; 2 with a sequel for each. I've queried them for almost 3 years and received exactly ZERO requests from agents to read a manuscript. Sound familiar. Well, being the stubborn cuss that I am, I started querying publishers directly. VOILA! They read the manuscripts and offered me three contracts - all within a week. I had to turn one down from a vanity press that wanted to charge me $8,000 up front. My 4 novels will now see the light of day, and my new job is promoting them as best I can via the electronic bridges to our world. Look for my titles on Amazon.com.

    1. I'm sorry you're struggling, Vernon. Writers have indeed always had it hard, but it does feel even harder with a pandemic onboard, doesn't it? I am so impressed that you didn't give up. Congratulations on your upcoming books!!

    2. Congratulations on finding a publisher! Wonderful news.

      A friend of mine who writes historical fiction skipped querying agents and went directly to publishers. This worked. She'd taken a seminar on contracts so she was prepared when they came her way.

      Thank you for the lesson on persistence. You are awesome.

  6. I've always been a "realistic optimist." Perhaps it's due to some glorious years with the Disney organization in my formative years. Perhaps it's due to the not-perfect, but almost-perfect family I was raised in. Perhaps it's due the enduring love of my high-school sweetheart/wife. I count my blessings regularly. And I count my brain-expanding, soul-searching, heart-warming adventures in author-land among those blessings. The Plague and The Politics and The Protests have only made me dig deeper to be positive and optimistic. For myself. For those around me. Is it tempting to go to the dark side and be fear-filled? Sure. Is it hard some days to stay hope-full? You bet it is. But we all have choices to make, every minute of every day. For me, I'm going to stand in the light and be the light. And you better bring your sunglasses if you're going to hang around me!

    1. I ALWAYS bring my sunglasses when I hang around you, Chris! I totally dig that part of you. The world can be a cold, cruel, dark place. I like it that you consciously choose to dwell in the light. 🙂 Perhaps we can have a socially distanced write-in (aka playdate) soon!!

  7. Thank you for asking. I hope you're all well. I've been in lockdown since March 18th (I was working part-time) and have given up speculating on an end date to this tragic medical debacle. I have two daughters, both of whom work in hospital labs within a couple of hours of me. Given our sparse population here in Montana, we don't draw much attention, but relative to size we're seeing huge spikes, with new records set on a regular basis as of late.

    I'm one of the vulnerable population. I was struck down by a lung infection in 2009 that stole a third of my lung capacity. I now suffer from Chronic Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, an autoimmune-like lung disease. I function at a high level, but my lungs are fragile. Covid-19 would be deadly.

    I'm an introvert, an INFJ to be exact, but this level of isolation is extreme. I'm managing. I walk each day (a bike trail is adjacent to my home). I took up yoga five weeks ago and am smitten. More than anything, though, I've been editing my novels and short stories. The first couple of weeks were a struggle, but over time I've gained momentum. I recognize two things. One is that, despite everything, I'm fortunate compared to most. The other is that I've been gifted time, and time is opportunity. I'm determined to not waste it.

    Please stay safe.

    1. We've been in lockdown since that exact date too, Christina. Like many states, California has locked, unlocked and re-locked. I'm sorry Montana has spiking case numbers - I hadn't read that yet. Your daughters are probably working around the clock, which is really a mixed blessing. Everyone with jobs is happy to have them, but my God, we're all running our behinds off.

      Your lung thing sounds wicked. I had scads of pulmonary emboli back in 2005 and my lungs are pitiful and compromised, but at mostly full capacity. Stay safe and well and masked!!

      P.S. I got yoga envy when I read your comment. We've been doing all our workouts virtually, and I'll bet I could find some good online yoga workouts - are there any you recommend?

      1. I get as much out of these lungs as possible. I walk, bike ride, and, of course, do yoga. It's all thanks to having found an amazing pulmonologist three years ago. I'm glad you recovered!

        I've been learning from Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. There are seven years worth of videos. She's astonishingly and refreshingly upbeat and caring. There are videos that explain each pose, complete workouts, and others that explain other aspects of yoga. If I achieve a fraction of what she can do I'll be reborn physically. I've a lot of decades of stiffness to work out. So far, so good. I'm seeing benefits already, physically and mentally. Again, though, my biggest endorsement is that she's like checking in with a friend each day. I'm not alone. She has almost 8M subscribers.

  8. I'm struggling with sleep issues. Those, of course, are compounding with other things like time management, creative flow, and finding space away from the family.

    Insomnia is it has been a chronic issue for me for years. I can get it under control and then revert back into the patterns which bring it back.


    1. I had a lot of trouble with sleep, too. I did a bit of research and discovered that hydrolyzed collagen (peptides) powder works for a number of maladies. I was originally looking for help with skin, but the first thing that improved was sleep, and only after a few days. Apparently the glycine in it does the trick. Meditation helps as well.

      Finding space away from everyone is a challenge to be sure.

      If I read too much news I become too sad to function creatively, so I keep informed but don't overdo.

      1. HI Ellen, I agree that limiting the negative news is important to keep my own spirits up. It's like the put your own mask on first that was mentioned earlier too!

    2. Denise, I get so jealous of my husband's ability to go right to sleep. Thirty seconds after his head hits the pillow, he's snoring. *sigh*

  9. Thanks for the timely post, Jenny. It seems like although I have more time and flexibility to write, the demands of daily life are also harder to manage. When your couch is your family time, entertainment, and work space it can be impossible to focus!

    What helps me to clear my mind are listening to music, walking the dog, doing yoga, or watering the plants. If I finish a page of edits or write a draft, that is worth celebrating. I reflect on the goals I have accomplished and refocus my efforts when doing something more active than writing.

    My family is blessed to have only minor inconveniences from the COVID shutdowns so far. It is useful for me to remember the opportunity in this downtime and the ways I can enjoy my family before they grow and leave the nest.

    Hang in there Writer Peeps! It is a challenging time for everyone, but one that writers can use for furthering their author goals as well. Take care all!


    1. That's exactly it, Kris. When you write, lounge and work all in the same space, it gets harder to do any of them properly. I'm glad you're hanging in. We're lucky, you and I, in that we have other people in our houses. That's a pretty key thing to staving off the blues. My pals in isolation are having a much harder time.

  10. Hello, Jenny. Indeed, the times are troubling and troublesome. My husband and I have managed most of the time to keep up our spirits, fatigued as we are by the restrictions. We keep busy. As to writing, my novel has stalled. Primarily because I have a hard time concentrating on it, and since it's historical fiction, I have limited access to the research I need. BUT, there's a silver lining. I have returned to short stories, some that I've already written and needed a special polish. More importantly, I see a short story in many circumstances around us. Sometimes a funny story, sometimes poignant, sometimes tragic, even a ghost story or two. The common thread among them is a deeper understanding and compassion for the human story. I suspect when we come through this my characters will have matured considerably. We find the silver lining and ride its tail the best we can.

    Here's wishes to you and all your readers to remain safe in body and mind. We CAN get through this and be the better for it.

    Happy Independence Day Holiday.


    1. I believe we can all get through this too, even though it's hard. And bravo to you on your short stories. That's wonderful news. Your novel will be there when you are ready to go back, and look at all those short pieces you will have to share and sell!

  11. Thank you for thinking of us. I live in South Africa, where the Covid-19 pandemic is only now beginning to take off, although we have been in "lockdown" since 27 March. I work/write from home, so whilst having to stay in, on the surface didn't change much of my routine, the isolation has had its effect and I have experienced a range of emotions: highs, lows and normal!
    It has been a time to dig deep, to question my goals, my methods of reaching those goals, the motives behind what I write. To this end I set out to re-brand myself, an exercise that I have yet to complete, and look at my author's platform, my pitches, an all round review. A scary process at times, but I feel stronger about my calling as a writer than before, my ideals and goals better defined, my role in society clearer.
    To my American friends and fellow wordsmiths, happy Independence Day.

    1. Thank you, Glenda! It is a very weird day today, in the middle of a very surreal time. The isolation is really getting to a lot of my friends. It's very hard when one is FORCED to be alone. It takes so much joy out of it, doesn't it?

      Stay safe over there in South Africa. I hope you aren't hit hard with this virus. And do check in with us over the next month or so and let us know how it's going, In the meantime, you have a platform to build on!

  12. Hey hey to all you other writers out there. The past several months have taken a toll on me. My mind is so filled with worry that there is only little energy left for writing and I struggle to focus big time. So as of now I manage to do a little once or twice the week, but mostly I have to bow out before I get anything relevant done because my mind just can't focus anymore. BUT on the bright side: on those days I do in fact manage to work a little I have immense fun playing with my characters and building a new world and story around them. It gives me strength and happy. I'm in Germany and though we are relatively safe here and people are mostly sticking to the rules, I don't feel like really going out yet. My English Conversation Class starts again next week, but they meet at an ice cream parlor with lots of people and I just don't feel safe enough to join them, yet.

    1. Yvonne, did you catch the post Tiffany Yates Martin did a few months ago on all the writing related things we can do to further our work, even while we can't wholly focus on it? It was amazing, I just went and looked it up for you: https://writersinthestormblog.com/2020/04/how-to-become-a-better-writer-in-quarantine/.

      And for your conversation class, I'll bet you aren't alone in the way you feel. Have you requested that they do a virtual option for all of you who aren't ready for the crowded meeting place? We've been pleasantly surprised by how many people are willing to offer that option. Good luck and STAY SAFE!

  13. Hi. Thanks for asking. I'm living in Germany and for the first few months we had spectacular weather and no serious lockdown. We could do grocery shopping and go out for walks every day. It was liberating but of course devastating to see news reels and it felt like a parallel universe. As far as writing is concerned, I'm editing my novel and never seem to get time. I've been taking online courses galore and learning a lot. This too will pass and we will have to adapt to a different world. I think, for a lot of us, it's shattered our sense of security. It has also reinforced our feelings of gratitude. It has shone a light on the darker corners of our world that need addressing.

    1. I think this is exactly right, Serendipity --> " I think, for a lot of us, it's shattered our sense of security. It has also reinforced our feelings of gratitude. It has shone a light on the darker corners of our world that need addressing."

      Now, if we can just keep the gratitude as we move forward, the world will be a tremendously better place.

  14. Thank you for asking!

    For an optimistic extrovert like me, this has been hard.

    I quit my job at the end of February because even then, I was getting scared. The nature of my job at the time meant I would be constantly exposed to anyone with the virus and having recovered from pneumonia once, if I got that again with the virus, I would not have survived.

    It took me until mid-April to land a new job, but in the meantime I could not write a word, even though I had lots of time. I just felt so overwhelmed.

    I started researching family history again. I learned more about ancestors and that made me happy. My mood started to improve, I cooked from scratch all the time and avoided going out at all.

    But I was missing my siblings, friends and fellow writers. I am a hugger by nature. and this is the worst part of this whole ordeal.

    My side hustle came to a screeching halt too. I missed interacting with people as much as the income.

    But then I started to review my five year plan and where I wanted to be. I made plans, did research and re-committed to finishing one of several novels that are in draft. I have given myself until February to finish at least one and submit to a major contest.

    Where I live, we are in Phase 2 of 3 and cases are down dramatically. I still wear a mask, but there are many who don't.

    Today, I am much more optimistic that I was in March and I am ready to move forward in my writing, whether the pandemic lingers or not.

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