Making art in isolation

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I always said, as a joke, I wanted to buy one of those old cottage motels and call it the “Write Your Damn Novel Motel.” No Internet, no TV, no refrigerator or coffee maker. Just a bed, a desk, and your damn butt-in-the-chair.  You get one prison-grade white towel with a green stripe down it, and a wrapped sliver-sized soap if you behave (writers rarely do). Fork over a donation for electricity and maid service and have at it. You have a month, and you are kicked to the curb. And you better send me your book when you get published – a signed copy, of course.

So, here we are in the middle of this pandemic that is forcing all of us into home detention, whether we like it or not. Granted, I don’t have to clothespin my drapes shut or make ice bucket runs. But this qualifies as my own motel butt-in-the-chair moment.

For the next month – or whatever time I have left on this earth – I am writing with extreme focus on one project. I have no excuse. All my community meetings are cancelled. Travel banned because I’m not essential. Even the once a week to the market for senior discount day is out, right when I created my own face mask – the no-sew version, made from a square of cloth material and two hair ties. I have to finish this project now. One week, two weeks from now I could be gone. This virus doesn’t discriminate.

I’m not starting from square one. I actually have two manuscripts, each one in varying stages of revision. I just need to get one of them to the point where I can let go of it, get it to a beta reader, a professional editor, and then a self-publisher in Virginia, Victor Rook, who is honest, hard-working and doesn’t take any bullshit off of anyone. This man stood up for a family of American eagles that a developer ignored, practically paving up to the root of their tree. His documentary about them won a grand prize award at a film festival in Richmond in January 2020. Look him up.

This pandemic is serious. If there is an art project you’ve wanted to finish, do it – a painting, a song, a musical composition, a sculpture, a dress design, a script. The world needs your art. Art under pressure is no bullshit art. It is a direct pipeline between the Creator and you, the created. You carry the vision, you carry the artistic message. Fear and a deadly deadline have cleared the way. Release it into the world, even if it is left behind without you, like cave drawings in France or the mosaic floors in Pompeii.

Don’t have the materials? Find an in-home substitute. A fellow artist had no clay so she made papier-mache. A prisoner in Afghanistan had no pen or paper, so he used a piece of coal from his floor heater to write a poem on the wall.

If you need permission, I’ll give it:  “Write your damn novel. You have a month.”

Just don’t bother me, I’m writing mine, too.

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