First, I hope you and your loved ones are well. At the end of the day, for me, this is all that matters, not how many pages I wrote or whether I got a dream job. My concern at the moment is making it through the day in one piece.
When it became clear that the world was in trouble, I turned to Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends. In particular, I found the writing community on Twitter to be greatly supportive. That said, I also saw lots of people saying, “I’m getting so much done! I’m writing so many pages!” And for me (as perhaps for others)… I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t like, “Great, a pandemic! Now I can write 24 hours a day!” No. It was more, “Do I have enough food and medicine and supplies to take care of myself and my partner?”
I found it difficult to write anything. I couldn’t understand the purpose. When the day felt dark and heavy and people had determined that toilet paper was the most precious commodity on earth, I struggled to make sense of it all. One thing I knew, though, was that human beings adapt to even the worst situations. If things are taken away from them, they will figure out how to do without, whether that means modifying, substituting or reimagining.
And when I got clear on that, I felt certain I would survive. That I must survive. That whatever it is I feel I must say or do while I am on this earth, that it has value.
It was this belief that finally got me to sit down again and rethink some of my earlier work and update it. It’s funny, isn’t it? When I was removed from it for almost a month, part of my mind was still thinking about it, processing it, making sense of it. And I can remember two distinct moments where I had epiphanies. Where it suddenly came clear to me how to address problematic areas in my script. And when I addressed them, I noticed something:
I had become a better writer. I had been writing nonstop until the pandemic hit, not even thinking about what I was writing. I was lucky that I had gotten two writing assignments last year. I worked with people who produce films all the time. I learned from them. But I didn’t have time to think about what I learned until everything seemed like it was pointless.
Well… it’s not pointless. Because by putting words on a page (or typing them), I prove I am here. I prove I have something to say. And that simple action… of making a commitment to write something, helped me remember that I am STILL ALIVE. And that, to date, I am lucky, because I have not been felled by this horrible virus. So, I need to keep creating and using my gift, in spite of all I see going on around me. My gift may only save one person: myself. But if that’s all, then I’m grateful I have it.
Please do not give up. That is my message today. Easy to say, hard to do. But, please. Do not give up.