Chronicling the Days – Rebecca Morris

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is by Rebecca Morris, writing on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Photo: Rebecca Morris

The New Normal

It’s been six weeks since the schools shut down, six weeks since my husband started working from home. I used to write during the day, when the house was empty and quiet. Now the house is never empty and it’s only quiet in the early mornings, while my teenage children are still asleep.

For the first few weeks of quarantine, I flailed. I floundered. I couldn’t read, couldn’t write, couldn’t think. Now I’ve settled into this strange new normal, carved out a new writing routine.

I’m at my desk by 7:30am. Three longhand morning pages to empty out my brain, 10 minutes of Headspace meditation to soothe my stressed-out soul, then I’m writing. Well, revising: this novel I’ve been working on for years is nearly done, but not done yet.

Today I’m working on chapter nine. One of my main characters is visiting her grandmother in a nursing home. The book is set in 2004, so I push away the dreadful thoughts of present-day nursing homes, overwhelmed with COVID infections. This scene is already written, but it needs to be tightened up, sharpened.

I get to work. I cut sentences, stitch together paragraphs, add details. The nursing home attendant has a name now: Habiba. The scene comes into focus. I dig into my character’s motivations, her emotions, her memories. I am lost in the world of my novel.

Then I glance at the clock: 9:30. I need to wrap this up, wake up my children. I polish a few more sentences, save my work. I am disappointed. I had hoped to finish this scene, to move onto the next chapter tomorrow. I’m not there yet. I shake my head and stand up, stretching my stiff back.

Outside my office, my dog is waiting patiently for me to emerge. I pet the dog, wake the kids. For the rest of the day, domestic life will overtake me. Online math with my thirteen-year-old twins. Laundry. Mailing cards to my mother in Ontario, my aunt in London, England. When will I see them again? I FaceTime a local writer friend, and we commiserate about the difficulties of novel writing. My sixteen-year-old daughter wants to talk to me about writing, too: she’s working on a long fan fiction piece, over 35 000 words already. She had only been writing since the quarantine began, and I am amazed by her enthusiasm and her creativity. I go for a run– it feels wonderful to exercise in the sunshine. I am so lucky to be healthy, to have my family healthy. I worry about my parents, about my in-laws, about all the beloved older people in my life. I need a dinner plan. Not pasta, we’ve eaten that two days in a row. Homemade pizza? Perfect. Tonight, I might start a new puzzle, or we may watch something on Netflix. I’ll read more “Anne of Green Gables” to my sons, be in bed by ten. Tomorrow is another writing day.

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