Sandra’s Occasional Newsletter – March 2020 “Writers are natural self-isolationists”

As Bill liked to say, “There’s only one way to write — ass in seat.”

Silhouette of writer at deskI like to soften his words to “derrière in chair.” As a writing team, we were natural self-isolationists together. We spent many days sharing a small office, not speaking to each other for hours, not wanting to interrupt the other’s thoughts.

When Bill went to his last roundup on October 30, 2019, I continued to spend my days in self-isolation, throwing myself into book marketing for our ten titles on Amazon and other outlets.

One Sunday afternoon in January, my doorbell rang

I’m not a fan of people dropping in unannounced, but, having been alone a lot, I was curious to see who was at the door.

“It’s Edward from Hospice,” the man said. “I took care of your husband one night when he had an emergency. I just finished seeing a patient around the corner and was wondering how you were. I hesitated to stop by, but decided to and see if you’d like a visit.”

Edward stayed an hour. Being part nurse, part therapist, he asked questions. How was I doing? What was I doing? And what was I going to do? I told him I was staying home a lot and burying myself in work. It was a way to keep the bereavement at bay, which I didn’t want to face.

“It’s not a good time to be a hermit,” he said. “What you need to do, Sandra, is join a group. Get out, see people.”

“Well, I’m thinking of joining the local writers group,” I said.

“Oh, that’s great. Join a writers group and meet other hermits. That’s not the kind of group I had a mind,” he said.

We laughed.

Writers are natural self-isolationists

But the majority of people are not hermit types. During this terrible time of pandemic and difficult self-isolation, it may be a good time to read or listen to the books on your “to read someday” list. Or try writing. Plant derriere in chair and write something. As the great Ray Bradbury said, don’t start out with a pre-conceived idea of what you’re going to write – a short story, the great novel, an award-winning screenplay – just write and write like heck. (He didn’t say heck.) Who knows, maybe someday your series of short stories or 300-word blog posts will become the outline for a book. It’s happened. It happened to Ray Bradbury with a series of his short stories, which became his first novel, The Martian Chronicles. 

What am I doing to pass the days in self-isolation

  • I finally listened to a book that’s been on my reading list since 2016… Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men by Win Blevins. In 2016, I met Win Blevins at a breakfast roundtable at the Western Writers of America Convention. I was seated next to Kirk Ellis (Emmy-winning writer of HBO’s John Adams) and seated next to Kirk Ellis was Win Blevins. There was nothing I could think of that was brilliant enough to contribute to the conversation between these two writers, so revered by every WWA member, so the others and I seated at the table were perfectly content just listening to these two talk. Back in my hotel room, I added everything written by Win Blevins to my reading list.
  • With books tours cancelled all over the country, Anne Bogel, author of Don’t Overthink It, created the Stay at Home Book Tour. You can join the Zoom meetings live or watch a replay at your leisure: Anne Bogel’s Stay at Home Book Tour.
  • And I’m learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with the guidance of SEO expert and marketing guru, Frank Colin. Learning SEO is a definite learning curve, but after three months, I’m seeing early results with new blog subscribers and a spike in book sales.

Since we’re facing another month or more in self-isolation, I think readers of this blog would be interested in knowing how other readers are getting creative and spending their days. Please share in the comments box.

Best from Casa McGee,

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