This summer something amazing happened. Everything went wrong. I got Covid, my daughter got Covid and my son got Covid. My son was at an overnight camp in NH, USA and per camp policy, was required to spend 10 days in isolation before returning to camp. My daughter and I were staying with my 80-year-old mother, who had yet to get Covid, so the idea of bringing my son back to the house wasn’t an option. Thank goodness my cousin offered her ski house, on the side of Cannon Mt, for us to use.
I’d never been more scared in my life. Not for my life, but for my son’s. For three days my son had 103 degree (39.4 celsius) fevers spiking randomly. Being in isolation on the side of a mountain was beautiful. However, I was 30 minutes from the shops and 45 minutes from the hospital. Nothing mattered in those couple of days except his wellbeing. Covid hardly touched my daughter, and yet was plaguing me with headaches and constant fatigue but no fevers. So I soldiered on as any mother would, every four hours tending to my son and making sure he was comfortable, hydrated and medicated.
For the past two years, Covid isolation has given all of us time to think, time to reassess, and time to question. But nothing makes you really question your life until you are face-to-face with fear of harm to your child. I’ve been with fear before, just after my son was born, with postnatal depression. And now, nearly 13 years later, it happened again, but this time, I was on my own.
Thank GOD for therapy and all the studying I have done. The fear this time was different, but my learned skills helped me push on until my son’s fever was gone and he became his usual pre-teen self.
That was nearly two months ago and I’m now only able to really look back and reflect on those 10 days. The reflection has begun and I now appreciate how difficult the situation was. My kids wouldn’t have known my need to escape the constant pressure of responsibility and the fatigue that was laden with fear. (I assimilate it to a horrible hangover where fear, anxiety, and headache sit with you. It’s no wonder the Irish use the term, “the fear” when you’re desperately hungover.)
On the fourth day of isolation, my son’s fever had subsided, and I left him and my daughter on the couch while I went into town to get some more supplies. I dipped into the bookstore on the main street and bought a book. That book was the escape I needed to get me through the next 6 days of isolation.
With isolation finished, I dropped my son back to overnight camp and took my daughter back to Boston. She started day camp that next day and I finally had some time to myself.
I opened my laptop and pulled up the 27 block spreadsheet of my work in progress. And just like that, the lightbulb in my head went off. The book I had just finished reading fit exactly into the spreadsheet outline I was using for my work in progress. The book was the finished product of the framework I was using. This was a tremendous revelation for me to actually see this format in action.
For the next four hours, I went through the book, breaking it down page by page, scene by scene, and dropping the content into my spreadsheet. It was like finding money on the street where you silently giggle to yourself and then look around and wonder if someone actually dropped it and you had to give it back. I could see how the content worked, and I immediately felt the possibilities and realisation that I could be a writer.
The realisation was inspiring and motivating. I can be a writer. I can do this too. My story can fit just like this one did into this framework and I could make it happen.
Well today, I did just that. Spending all morning (3 hours) plotting… putting my story into my framework using the example from the published book, and I feel ridiculously accomplished.
I love the NaNoWriMo challenge to just write, but I am a plotter (and planner) by nature. I need to see where my story is going and what happens to get it there before I really get down into the writing. That said, I’m aware and open to changes based on the creative writing process. But seeing a published book (that I loved) in this framework has given me a new perspective on being a writer. The perspective that I CAN BE AN AUTHOR with dedication and hard work.