It is Day 7 of sheltering-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Day 7 of trying to keep my children entertained and healthy, and keeping myself sane. On top of that, we have a 3-month old puppy that wants to chew up everything in sight. Although I’m an introvert and love being home cuddled up on the couch, even I have my limits. And knowing I CAN’T really go anywhere even if I wanted to…well that is apparently one of my limits.
I have all these ideas of things to do to stay busy. Crafts, school lessons, baking, board games, body-weight HIIT workouts, Marie Kondo-ing my house, finally finishing the revisions on my novel, researching literary agents, walking around the neighborhood, cleaning everything from floor to ceiling. But then I get sucked into the vortex of articles and posts about the novel coronavirus. I go from being calm to being panicked to laughing at another toilet paper meme in a matter of seconds. It’s overwhelming. And that’s okay, because I know everyone else is overwhelmed too.
But I have a secret for you. Something that will give you a few moments–or hours–of respite. Books. (I know–not a big surprise coming from me.) I recently read books that transported me to: the UK (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes); the African island nation of Mauritius (Almost a Bride by Jo Watson); and the woods of New Hampshire (Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst). And I’m currently immersed in the day-to-day life of Korea and Japan in the 1900s (Pachinko by Min Jin Lee).
You can lose yourself in magical worlds or post-apocalyptic lands (in reassurance that our current pandemic has not reached that level). If you’re anxious, trust that you will find a happy ever after in any romance novel. Want to keep your brain busy? Read a mystery or suspense novel and see if you can guess the twists.
I am also throwing myself into my own fictional world. My novel follows three family members as they move across the country, running away from their problems, their feelings, each other. Their story starts in San Francisco and over nearly 30 years, takes them through small town life in Louisiana to a walk-up in Brooklyn, a farm on the gulf coast of Texas to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains back in California. Boston, Massachusetts and a beach town in New Hampshire. Tacoma and Seattle, Washington.
Now I’m not telling you to run away from your problems like my characters do (not that you could right now, even if you wanted to). But taking a little mental health break, whether through reading or something else you enjoy, is a necessity. And I hope that one day soon my book will be ready to aid you in just a little bit of escapism.
So turn the page and enjoy this extra down time we now have friends! And stay healthy!