How 2020 Changed My Writing Goals: A Guest Post by J.G. MacLeod
destroyed Changed My Writing Goals
Existential dread. That’s what consumed most people in the spring of 2020 as many of us experienced our first ever lock-down scenarios. My situation was no different. I spent most of April sitting in a chair, staring at four walls, and trying not to imagine apocalyptic scenes in my vivid writer’s brain.
Before March, I had been on track to finish writing two novels and planned to release them in late summer and mid-fall. That never happened. My sense of impending doom halted all creative endeavors. The act of writing suddenly seemed daunting. Already drowning in homeschooling three young children, trying to assist my aging parents, and teaching 75 grade 12 students online, my manuscripts sat untouched for months.
Getting My Mojo Back
Sometimes you have to sink, before you can swim. Call it what you want: grieving, procrastinating, avoiding, or wallowing – I needed to spend ¾ of a year in contemplation before my stories eventually started to call to me. So what changed?
Nothing material. We’re still in lock-down where I live, we’re still much more isolated than we were this time one year ago, and we’re still living in fear for our health and the well-being of our loved ones. But I changed. Living through a pandemic is a form of trauma and I needed to hunker down mentally so I could survive the demands of daily life.
Only after coming to terms with the deep losses and changes could I create again. My process of regaining my mojo does not look the same as everyone else’s, but by focusing on my own inward healing – by spending more time outdoors, by sitting quietly in nature, and by experimenting with other types of creativity (painting, for example) – I was able to return to my works in progress with renewed energy and focus.
The Past Love: A Time-Travel Rom Com (and sequel to The
Imagine you’ve suddenly been transported to 15th-century Glasgow. You’re a single woman, aged twenty, who doesn’t know what year it is, doesn’t understand the language, and isn’t schooled in the local laws, customs, or gender expectations. What would you do?
Fortunately for Brigid MacDonald, the protagonist of my series of romantic comedies, she isn’t any ordinary heroine: she’s a black belt in karate who isn’t afraid of a fight.
And because this is a sequel to The Future Bride, you might be wondering whether Brigid remembers her first adventure in Scotland. The answer to that is no. She’s been mysteriously pulled back in time one year before the other tale takes place. Ferghus hasn’t been scarred; Nyle’s epic party hasn’t been ruined; and Doughal – well – you’ll have to read the book to see what you think of him!
Will there be a third book? You bet!
A third (and probably final) installment of this time-travel rom com is loosely plotted. Entitled Once and Future, this adventure will finally give readers what they expect: a trip to 2019 for poor Ferghus MacLeod, as well as explanations for why this whole time travel thing is occurring in the first place.
It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to use comedy as one
of many coping strategies.
If I’ve learned anything these past 11 months, it’s that recognizing that you are not okay is a strength.
Talking about it is even better. And writing or reading lighthearted stories or watching shows that make you laugh – that help you escape for a time – are not pointless or less credible than other forms of art.
Losing myself in the past, further developing Brigid and Ferghus, and crafting dialogue that makes me laugh out loud have all helped me feel a little more like myself. It’s okay to laugh. It’s a testament to the human spirit that we can find hope amidst the darkness. It doesn’t mean we aren’t still in mourning, but it means we are ready to heal.
You can read The Future Bride while you’re waiting for The Past Love to come out this spring.
For laughter. For love. For kilts.
I reviewed the first installment of her Lady Ellen Series, which you can read here.