I live in an area with strict stay-at-home orders because of the pandemic. Over the past weeks, I’ve learned much. Last year I was touched by a CBS news segment about a girl who grants the wishes of nursing home patients. They don’t want the status symbols younger people can crave, but simple items such as cola and fresh fruit.
The segment felt abstract to me last year. Now that I rarely indulge in perfume or hairspray and my best clothes remain untouched, I better understand the simplicity of desiring nothing more than the basics. I pray The Lord’s Prayer several times a day. Jesus’ prayer of “Give us this day, our daily bread,” feels more real than ever.
Yet some businesses are increasingly emphatic over email. “I’m still here!” pleads a shirt I abandoned in a virtual shopping cart. “Don’t forget me! I’m an additional 10% off now!” shouts a tunic from another deserted cart. Yes, I need to stop ditching virtual carts. But the point is, the world still wants me to consume goods regardless of need. Because I no longer have that need for the foreseeable future, I’m wise to resist. Instead, I look to a maxim of St. Teresa of Avila, “Ask for nothing particular in the way of food or raiment, unless there be great need.”
Empathetic people can imagine themselves in other people’s situations, enabling them to write about a variety of characters. But nothing compares to experiencing a situation yourself to give you the ability to tap into those feelings when you write.
Has the pandemic changed your viewpoint in any way that could affect your writing? How?
What has been the hardest character for you to portray in your books? Why?
I think the pandemic has made me more empathetic. That probably will show up in my writing.
Thoughtful post, Tamela!!!
1. I’ve become more discerning with frivolous purchases as I’ve matured.
2. The pandemic has afforded me additional time to write – to learn the craft better and spend more time with my characters.
3. All of my characters are difficult to portray, because I’m trying to make them as three-dimensional as I can to develop what I want the reader to see and appreciate.
I suspect that many of the frivolous purchase habits we collectively had will be much attenuated going forward. When you’ve done without something for a few months, you learn Gee, maybe I didn’t need that Stuff as much as I thought.
Good post, Tamela.
The Covid-19 Adventure shows up in the sequel.
The pandemic has reminded me how lonely nursing homes and assisted living centers can be. My Mother lived in a nursing home in Virginia. She was fortunate to have lots of family and friends visit. Some people are not so blessed. During this pandemic, I have been mailing cards to nursing homes and assisted living centers, so residents can receive mail and know someone cares. I mail a bunch of cards in a big envelope and ask the staff to deliver them to those residents who need extra care.
One of the most disheartening things about the panemic and the unrest that followed has been how quickly America has turned on its police and military. They were lauded in TV commercials (“We’re all in this together!”) and ‘a grateful nation’ made sure they had food and water as they worked.
And now. All are broadbrushed and rejected for the actions of a few.
How will they trust us, ever again?
The hardest characters for me to portray are the villains. I have a hard time not making them “human.” There is a myriad of reasons (Grammarly may like that phrase, but it sounds wrong…) why circling through my head: I want evil to be transparent. I don’t want people to empathize with the bad guy. I write three- dimensional characters with hangups and foibles and yes, faults and sins. But somehow the villains lack that. Something I need to work on… Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
The pandemic has made me wish even more people would read my books, because they point to Jesus. Time is short.
Writing about myself was challenging in my books, because I was a dirtball before I accepted Christ. Thank God for God!
Haha, I just ignored my virtual shopping cart and returned to writing. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was happy to “get” to stay home. That time allowed me to get caught up on multiple home projects, write a few short stories, blog posts, book reviews, and finish a novel. Now, I’ve become a little antsy to go to church, get out with friends, and socialize. I’m working on a new book and looking forward to MurderCon in August and BRMCWC in November.
I think the pandemic has renewed my sense of appreciation for face-to-face conversations and phone calls, where I can hear the voices of my family and friends. This appreciation could possibly come across in my writing.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
The pandemic has made me more introspective, which I think actually adds to the depth of my characters. I enjoy getting into their skins, where they are interacting in a world that has no social distancing or face masks.
Although my work has become more demanding, it has given me time to write more than was possible in the months leading up to the pandemic. Talking to my students and trying to ease their concerns has made me more aware of human interaction, which is a good thing.
These events have changed my perspective in two ways. First, it’s helped me see the big picture. When life is seemingly normal, we sometimes become complacent. But what is normal? History books are filled with virus outbreaks and seasons of financial depression. When I step back, I realize this is yet another challenging season in which all we can do is share love and understanding.
Second, my perception of people has changed. Scrolling through my feed, I read the arguments and shake my head at the name-calling. The division and pride is apparent. And almost everyone becomes defensive at any comment that even hints at disagreement. It’s this complicated depth of character I want to write into my novels. To not only highlight the positive aspects of the character, but the twisted, complex traits that are so relatable in our world.
I’ve spent too much time on Facebook and am now playing catch-up. Now I’m trying to learn to use my time more wisely.