Love in the Time of Covid#1

covid 19

Early in 2020, just as the Wholesale Seafood Market was being shut down in Wuhan, China, I was wondering how I could get more into writing.

Having wrestled my experience of heart bypass surgery into some kind of readable format, (, I realised I loved writing. I’d always loved writing poetry and stories at school but had a weirdly scientific mind and ended up doing Maths, Physics and Chemistry for A’Levels. I did blow my Physics teacher’s brain once when for homework, I wrote him a poem about mass spectrometry. He couldn’t fault the science it contained so I passed.

Throughout my heart operation, I was fascinated by other people’s reactions. Friends, family, acquaintances and medical staff. This wasn’t just happening to me, but affected them as well. Just as other people’s lives have an effect on our own. No man is an island. There’s always endless stuff to write about other people.

With ‘Ten past Six’ I thought maybe I could try and get it published. So I bought a book called ‘Writer’s and Artists Yearbook 2020’. It’s huge and covers everything you could want to know about getting published. Including the ‘Are You Ready to Submit’ flow chart on page 441 by literary agent, Ed Wilson. Sorry to use this without asking but it is brilliant. It asks, amongst other things, whether you have enough gin in the house. I spent the whole of last year not being ready (or really drinking gin), but now, in 2020, I felt I was – ready. We at least had tequila.

In the front of the book however was a short story competition. 2000 words, on any subject, to be handed in by 13th February 2020. I’d bought the book around April 2019 so had had a year to mull this over. In the meantime, in October 2019, I’d found a local competition for local people. This was for 4000 words which had to be based on one of three black and white old photos of Portsmouth. It also, thanks to the marvels of heritage funding, offered three free workshops on short story writing, of which I was a complete novice. A local lecturer and Portsmouth Library Poet in Residence, Amanda Garrie, inspirationally led us through character development, plot lines, the hero’s journey, writing styles, conflicts, media res, Kurt Vonnegut – I was pumped for this. Unfortunately I was so pumped and giddy with all these new ideas that my story was shit because I forgot to use my imagination. But the course was brilliant and I wanted more.

Luckily, I still had short story competition #2 and had known ages ago, what I wanted it to be about. My idea was that, in the future, Lucy would be a scientist travelling to Mars with some kind of rogue AI who would malfunction, killing everyone. Maybe the AI would then head back to Earth or Lucy could, herself, turn out to be an AI too.

The point was, I was well into Mars and had taken an interest in the Virgin Galactic developments for space tourism in the 2000s and more recently, the SpaceX project headed by Elon Musk. There’d been a feature on Sunday Brunch about an exhibition at the Design Museum in London about Living on Mars. Talk about immersive. I had properly spent 6 hours on Mars by the time I came out of that place. As far as a story about Mars went, I was living the dream!

So, as the first cases of coronavirus were reported in Europe then the UK, and WHO declared a global emergency (although not yet a pandemic) and named the new virus CO (corona) VI (viral) D (disease) 19 (the year it was first identified), Lucy did indeed make it to Mars only to be faced with a complete distopian society headed by the elite. Things did not go well.

And who’d have thought that the very elite I was basing my story upon would come to be making some very socialist real life decisions within a month of handing in my script?

Next blog – The Red Fox – Lucy’s Adventures on Mars.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.