So, here we are then, all stuck inside waiting for the beast to sniff us out and come knocking on the door disguised as a friendly neighbour or lost delivery guy. We get a lot of lost delivery guys (both male and female) round here, hoping someone will know where the final package in the boot of their hatchback belongs. So it’s only a matter of time. Two people in this region have been bitten already, and now the predator is here I expect it’ll hang around until it’s done as much damage as possible. The thing is, what to do in the meantime?

Image: Bailey Torres on Unsplash

Since the start of the year I’ve been happily ensconced in my workroom working on the basics of my craft. To help me I have a stack of books: my old and much thumbed Oxford Thesaurus of English; an Oxford English Dictionary; a 2011 Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (much recommended!); Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (ditto!); an Oxford Modern English Grammar; and the international edition (10th) of A Glossary of Literary Terms by MH Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham. Every morning, in the light of one or several of these books, from six til ten, I examine sentence construction, both by looking at the sentences of favourite writers/books, and by making up my own. I’ve been having a ball.

Where I feel I am when I sit with a pile of books working on cleft constructions (image:  Clay Banks on Unsplash)

Last week I was in schools teaching imaginative writing to five-thirteen year olds for four days, but I still worked on those sentences before having to go out. I set my alarm for five in order to do so. By the time I got home each afternoon (fourish) I was so tired all I could do was stare at my feet till bed time. But I couldn’t imagine not doing a couple of hours of my own work every morning, it was more important than eating breakfast. This week, however, things have changed. This week, now it’s become eye-wateringly clear that the monster is here and it’s going to get us, and we’re all being advised to self-isolate to ‘flatten the curve,’ I can’t concentrate on determinatives or positive paucal indefinite pronouns.

Yesterday we went out and stocked up on frozen vegetables and tinned sardines, and it felt like the last time I’d be able to leave the house for some time. As I rarely leave the house you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, but it seems it is, I don’t quite know why. I like my own company; I like sitting here all day trying to solve the problem of getting a minor character from one place to another; I like idly picking up a book and losing hours trying to decide which is the Head Phrase in a Kafka sentence. But I can’t seem to do any of those things right now.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Right now I feel oddly compelled to stay informed – which means I’m losing hours trawling Twitter and Facebook leaving little hearts on community minded posts – and to bake. If I had all the ingredients, instead of doing this, I’d be making lemon polenta cake, or chocolate cream pie, or something with apricots and brandy and bitter almonds. Or plums:

Or up in Glasgow getting a haircut. ‘I badly need a haircut’ is something I say at most twice a year, and only then if I need to go somewhere where people are. The last time was early December when I had to go to London for my aunt’s funeral, and I realised just in time that I’d probably offend all my relatives if I turned up looking like that! Generally my personal appearance has ceased to be a priority.* But at the moment the length of my hair is driving me nuts, it feels not just too long, but too wide, it keeps getting in my face. I keep fantasising about a Claire Underwood crop.

Image: Pinterest

I think I may be reverting to stereotype…

But how are you? What are you doing to fill the time between now and the vaccine?


Header image:  engin akyurt on Unsplash

*as long as my weight stays where I like it, when that goes up I become freakish!

Published by Eryl Gasper Dick

I am an artist and writer living in southwest Scotland. I freelance as a Literature Ambassador (for Wigtown Festival Co. who run the Scottish Book Town); as a creative writing teacher; and a content provider, populating people's websites and marketing materials with perfectly honed, clear sentences. When I'm not gadding about supporting writers, lit events, businesses, and students I write fiction, non-fiction, and the odd poem. I avidly believe that creativity is the answer to the problem.

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4 Comments

  1. Ha Ha!! Believe it or not I am starting a writing club!! It’s intended to be very silly, but you are more than welcome to join.
    I did the 24hr rolling news thing last week and I am now looking for something new to do. I frightened myself witless.
    Anyhow, my hair also grows wide, and I have already made plans for giving myself a pixie cut sometime in May. I have clippers and a YouTube from Pinterest – how hard can it be?! You could try undercutting – that would take some of the weight out of your hair.
    Keep smiling, Eryl 🙂

    SXXX

    Like

  2. Still trying to work out what being in isolation for probably a year or more (or however long it takes to find a vaccine) actually means.
    I’m extremely fortunate that Maggie and I have such a positive relationship. I keep thinking of all the families who are stuck together who can’t even survive a few days over Christmas without massive arguments. And then I think of all the people who are literally in the house on their own, which I think would literally drive me insane.
    Finding ways of keeping the mental health together is as big a challenge as a lack of income, as somehow self-employed creatives seem to have slipped through the net.
    Still, with a lack of photography customers for god knows how long, it seems my blogging is back on the go. I’ve done 3 posts in the past few days, compared with only 15 in the whole of 2019!
    Do pop across and say hello some time 🙂

    Like

    1. Dave said the same thing just this morning: that he felt very lucky that we get on so well, and that he worried for people who have less positive relationships. I really worry about those in abusive relationships, usually but not exclusively women, whose safety is going to be severely compromised, both mental and physical.
      I’ve never lived alone so I have no idea how I’d cope if I had only my own company to look forward to for the foreseeable future, I do feel very sorry for those in such a position. And I agree, maintaining mental health is going to be a major problem, especially if total lockdown is implemented and we have a year or more of this. So many people’s lives are going to be drastically changed, even if they never get the virus.
      I feel very lucky to be an artist, I remember reading in some text book when I was studying political philosophy that a huge percentage of people who survived the siege of Leningrad were actively engaged in the arts. I must ask my old tutor for the source, I’ve been meaning to for ages, now it feels really important.
      Hopefully there will be a resurgence in blogging, I’ve been horrendously neglectful of my old blog pals, and this feels like the perfect time to try and reconnect, starting with you on your blog. I’ll be right there!

      Liked by 1 person

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