By Claire Booth
Stay at home.
Shelter in place.
Some are new phrases. Some are old ones applied to a new situation. What other words are we as a society going to invent or re-purpose as we live through this pandemic? I’ll be very interested to see.
I’ve been asked multiple times in the past week if my current work-in-progress will have a pandemic in it. The answer is: I don’t know. I’d say “it’s too soon,” but that I think might not end up applying this time. “Too soon” works for a finite moment-in-time type of disaster—an earthquake, a tornado, or even something that lasted longer like Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 and their aftermaths. Most good novels about those kinds of events come later, after a writer has had time to process something so overwhelming. Time to let it marinate, to seep into the subconscious and come out again, emerging in a written work that adds something new and unique to the conversation.
But this … this is a drip-drip-drip of a disaster. Will we really wait all that time after it’s over to start producing novels about it? I don’t know that a lot of us can wait. Writers gotta write. We’re hardwired to process things with the written word. And now that many of us are stuck at home with nothing else to think about all day, I’m going to wager that there will be books published a lot sooner after this horribleness ends than those after previous tragedies.
Will I be one of them? I don’t know yet. But I’m definitely thinking about it.