Spoiler: they’re not. Everyone is distracted and worried. Allison Flood writes about “blockdown” — what’s happening to writers after a year in forced isolation. Wait, aren’t we supposed to be isolated already? Yes, but on our own terms. It’s like the dog barking at the end of the chain and when he gets let off, he lies down peacefully somewhere he could have with the chain still on. Personally, I’ve barely touched my behemoth fantasy novel since March, and I’m bargaining with myself to revisit my reasonable-length literary novel that needs a complete overhaul. That said, I have finished editing my book of new and selected poems and started a poetry school. So, you know, it’s all perspective.
If the first lockdown was about finding space to write (along with a blitz spirit and a Tesco delivery slot), then the second has been far bleaker and harder for creativity. Whether it is dealing with home schooling, the same four walls, or anxiety caused by the news, for many authors, the stories just aren’t coming.
“Stultified is the word,” says Orange prize-winning novelist Linda Grant. “The problem with writing is it’s just another screen, and that’s all there is … I can’t connect with my imagination. I can’t connect with any creativity. My whole brain is tied up with processing, processing, processing what’s going on in the world.”