Pandemics have a habit of placing humankind on the back foot. To everyone around me, I may have looked like I was (finally?) slowing down, but my brain was on high alert. Anxiety does that. Thoughts take you where they will – rationality, optional. My mind, nerves and heart revved constantly, gearing up for destinations unknown. Meanwhile, I left a few crumbs in case I got lost … which, for a while, seemed to be often.
But it recently occurred to me that I wasn’t lost at all. I was simply changing.
Get fit, brush up on French, update the kids’ scrapbooks, publish my play, experiment with other forms of writing, be grateful.
That was the list I wrote after the shock of the first lockdown settled, somewhere around April 2020. It was part ‘When life gives you lemons’ and part ‘If I stay busy I won’t have time to think about seismic changes in the world.’
As writers we often play detective – probing, investigating, discovering, each step bringing us closer to the truth. But what if the subject of your investigation is mysterious, surly, contradictory and often inaccessible? What if the person you’re trying to understand is standing on the other side of a locked door, with a mad dog at their side?
What if that person is you?