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Do You Miss Life Before Covid19 ?

writing before covid

This blog started with writing more than 10 years ago, 12 to be exact.

Writing used to be a way to let off steam in those distant days. I often started typing on this blog just to get the muse going again, and more than a decade later, with a novel published last year, I find I’ve stopped doing that. Writing is a much bigger part of my life now, but other than the occasional burst of flash fiction (like this one), I hardly ever give in to impulse any more.

To people like me, who write professionally, it is important to keep the fun aspect going.Writing is hard enough, without becoming a chore.

In these covid times, some of my friends have finished entire novel drafts, others have completed blog challenges, yet others have submitted and published many stories. I’m working on the edits of my WIP, but have decided to cut myself some slack. The lockdown measures are all of us trying to survive a threat. It is all right if productivity dries up in times of crisis. Sometimes it feels as if all of human endeavour is to feel safe–we go about it the best we can.

I’ve been writing bits and pieces, snippets and stories and articles, flash fiction on the blog. but basically following wu wei–my word for this year: effortless effort. I take what words come to me–the only compulsion is to make time to sit down and write or edit. If things work out, great. No harm done if not. I’m targeting mid-May for the next draft of my novel, and am hoping it will get done.

In between, some days are better than others, and it doesn’t help that on some mornings I have this mad urge to take the laptop and walk out and write out of doors, which is no longer an option. I do not know when I’d be able to take a quiet seat at a cafe like in the pre-covid times, wrap myself in white noise, get a pot of tea, and let the hum and buzz of people around take me to a quiet place inside of myself in to a world I’ve created and let the words pour out, writing up people who have no existence beyond my imagination, and hopefully between the flaps of a book (like Jatin and Anjali from You Beneath Your Skin, and their story).

All my problems are privileged problems. My pantry is well-stocked. I live in a developed nation and I have enough to eat (and drink, if I so desire). I can still go for walks in the parks, and I have a roof over my head. I can afford to stay home. So far, all my friends and family are safe (I can’t say the same of their friends, though–the virus has not been kind to many).

Blessings that I was aware of, but perhaps did not appreciate enough. I have other privileged friends, who have money, but you can’t eat money if you’re in a containment zone and the groceries are not delivered. I have underprivileged friends who are (rightly) panicking at the thought of jobs and livelihoods lost. (I’ve also got friends who do not believe there’s a virus, that it’s a huge conspiracy theory that originated in China, but that’s another story!)

In all this mayhem, it feels strange to long for some of the privileges of pre-Covid times. Times when we could walk into crowded places without a second thought. When writing at a cafe was one of the most every-day things–privileged, sure, but still, a commonplace activity.

It makes me feel guilty to long for things when I have access to so much–a guilt that has not been assuaged by donating to orgaisations like GOONJ which are feeding migrant workers. (One of my friends is a trustee of Project WHY and she’s walking to raise money to feed 100 families in India–check it out to support her cause.)

Tell me how the covid is treating you. Do you long for the days before Covid? Are you getting any writing done? Drowning in housework? Worried about the future, or groceries, or the kids’ education? Anyone else miss writing at a cafe?

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Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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53 Comments

  • macjam47 says:

    I do miss those carefree days when I could go to the zoo with my granddaughters, have lunch with friends at a restaurant, do my own grocery shopping, have a date night with my husband. Most of all I miss not seeing my children and grandchildren. I miss holding my baby granddaughter, playing chase with the 3-year-old, and doing crafts with the 6-year-old. I have done quite a bit of reading, but not a lot of reviewing. I’ve cleaned closets and cabinets, and drawers. Next I will be tackling the craft supplies, but I keep putting it off because it’s something my granddaughter and I do together. We will get through this.
    Stay safe, dear friend.

  • aj vosse says:

    Pre-beer-bug days… yes, I wonder about them. I’d just reached a important medical classification milestone – allowing me to work part-time to earn a bit of money – now, that process is on hold. However, I have to confess – a surprising event has encouraged me to pick up the pace of my short story writing – again!
    The author and owner of this blog left a very kind review of my first collection of short stories! The smile she shared with me buoyed my flagging writing enthusiasm! You see, I’m also a blogger – have been blogging for more than nine years – daily posts.
    My blog started life after I completed my first (unpublished) novel… because there was a void left – so, the blog filled that void – then essays and short stories followed… and now, blogging has become a bit of a chore… but I keep going – in the hope of sharing a few smiles! (I believe that is now the purpose of my blog… sharing smiles.)
    So, as we may also walk for exercise – we have found a few new paths in and around our town. One of these walks plus the current impact on our freedom sparked an idea for a story – and when the final reminder for the deadline for this year’s Bath Short Story Award loomed – the story told itself – now, I wait for good news – yes, it will be an honour when the long-list notification arrives – an affirmation that positives still exist!
    Right… as I tend to say these days… stay safe – be happy! But, before I go, I’d like to say THANKS to Damyanti for her inspiration and encouragement! Lady, you are indeed a dedicated role model for us to follow!!
    πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ˜

  • I had crazy dreams of finally finishing a manuscript I’ve been working on for the past three years, and maybe even going back to an old writing project… so far I can barely keep up with my blog posts, now that I am teacher, housewife, dog trainer, child wrangler, peacekeeper etc… Maybe I will get some proper writing done eventually!

  • Damyanti,

    We all miss pre-Covid days but this will soon pass and hopefully with more standing than not. I think we should continue to live cautiously even after we’re back in public circulation – work, social functions,… for awhile because this virus will rear its ugly head again. Stay safe and be well. Thanks for visiting my place. Have a good weekend!

  • Vinitha says:

    I think it will be a long time before we walk into a crowded space without thinking about the invisible virus. This virus is succeeding in building barriers and yet we are not able to get rid of it. I long for those days when I wasn’t worried about a tiny invisible being threatening us all. Mostly I am craving for the return of those mundane routines and find some silence (house is filled with all 4 occupants). I long for the return of quietness. But then I fear, would I feel terribly lonely once the husband starts going back to his office and the kids to their school?

  • Oh absolutely! I miss my freedom. I miss not going out and meeting with friends. I miss not being able to work at home in peace. Yes all those emotions that you’ve described.

  • Pam Lazos says:

    I miss moving around in the world, but I can’t say this is driving me crazy. I actually am enjoying the quiet, spending more time with my husband, doing a little drawing, and just being. It’s nice to take a step back sometimes, albeit under better circumstances than a global pandemic.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, it is good to be able to take a step back. I’m just flowing with it all–each day passes by in the river of time. Some days, I don’t do so well but that’s normal I guess.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I miss the freedom of having choices … otherwise being in a relatively sleepy town … it’s been reasonably easy. I’ve lots to get done and then lots to keep me amused … reading etc … take care – Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Take care and stay safe, Hilary. So glad it is relatively easy where you are.

  • shanayatales says:

    You know, D, I have always been aware of my privilege. It’s not like CoVid opened my eyes to it.

    But there were still so many things I (and we as a family) took for granted. The random things we did not even realize we enjoyed till we couldn’t indulge in it anymore. Things that we wouldn’t have even used the word indulge for, if you know what I mean. It’s the knowledge of these things that has surprised me the most.

    That being said, this has been a rough situation all around. For everyone. And that is putting it mildly. I want to give the entire world a big hug.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Same–I want to give the entire world a big hug. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah has become my mantra.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. I live life every day and make adjustments to deal with whatever challenges life puts in front of me… πŸ™‚

    β€œThe pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”( William Arthur Ward)… πŸ™‚

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Larry, thanks for stopping by–yes, we all must do our best despite the challenges put in front of us. Stay safe, my kind friend.

  • Mayur says:

    Yes

  • Obsessivemom says:

    The only thing I miss of the BC days is solitude. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel extraordinarily fortunate and privileged.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Tulika, I hear you on that. The spouse’s WFH has deprived me of solitude as well, but I think we’ve adjusted, mostly.

  • Natasha says:

    Yes, we are indeed privileged to be in the safety of our homes and that we are managing to work, write and keep our sanity intact.
    Honestly I don’t long for the pre-covid days as such, except missing my cycling jaunts and going to work once/twice a week. I possibly have embraced this new way of life and chooses to stay grateful and content amidst the uncertainties.

    Sending you love and happy thoughts.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sending you love too, Natasha. Let’s hope these uncertain times end soon.

  • The daily devastating news is heartbreaking and causes stress and anxiety. I’m grateful to be well, have my own small cottage and enough food. However, the shortages in the supermarket are becoming worse in some cases. The world-wide job losses are terrible. People who didn’t have much to begin with are suffering even more. Nations were not prepared for this pandemic and the effects will be felt for a long time.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’ve started looking at the news only once a day, in the evening. Anything more stresses me out. Supermarket shortages are scary–I hope they don’t get any worse. It is always the poor who suffer the worst–I hope we can all do our bit to help. We’re doing the best we can to fundraise and give wherever possible.

  • ccyager says:

    Hi, Damyanti — glad to hear you are safe and well! I am writing as much as I can during my time in isolation at home and making progress on the first draft of my third novel. I miss my job and the people there. I miss feeling safe going out and being among people without thinking of them as potential carriers, even though that existed before COVID-19 as well. But now, being in a high risk group, I feel that danger acutely. I miss not being afraid to ride public transit and to go to work. But life at home is comfortable, with plenty to do, housework especially, and groceries are delivered. I must go out for pharmacy supplies or to the hardware store for cleaning supplies. There is an element of boredom, though. And that friction between the order to stay at home and the desire to be able to go to a concert or the theater. I think we will all miss pre-COVID-19 life because our lives will not be the same probably for years. My fiction writing calms me and keeps me grounded.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      “that friction between the order to stay at home and the desire to be able to go to a concert or the theater” hits us all sometimes. I’m glad you’re getting groceries delivered though and do not have to go out, especially in light of your helath situations. Stay safe, and I hope things get better soon.

  • setinthepast says:

    I miss seeing my family. I miss going out, especially as it’s the sunniest April we’ve had in years. I suspect that my holidays are about to be cancelled. I do not like having to queue up to go into the supermarket! But I like working from home, away from all the noise in the office, and I like the general quiet.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, missing an entire summer is not easy–and queuing up at supermarkets is not easy. In Singapore as well, we now have new restrictions in place.

      The general quiet is the only blessing.

  • Vadhan says:

    So, I’ve written a rant called ‘Not Yet another Rant on COVID-19 where I am far more critical of the way the world has fallen behind in meeting the challenge caused by the Pandemic.

    All success with your crime novel. I wish it all success. ‘May it become a Bestseller’ (if it already isn’t one).
    Stay safe, stay healthy.

    Vadhan

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the kind wishes, Vadhan, and for stopping by to comment. The book was an Amazon bestseller, and let’s hope it continues to sell, because the proceeds are going to non-profits that need it badly in the current times. Shall check out your post!

  • I guess we all have friends who are doing fine and those who are not handling all the restrictions. It’s up to us all to find a friend who is doing it tough either emotionally or financially and give them whatever help appropriate and possible. The telephone and internet are tools to use for this purpose. However as you say there is no substitute for seeing people’s faces in the flesh as humans are social people. So in the absence of that we can only do our best to be a support. I was suffering with writers block until someone in my writing world asked me why I hadn’t considered a certain topic. Ideas exploded in my head and I just completed a ten chapter series. I was in “lockdown” in my office until I’d got that out of my system. πŸ™‚ So the virus lockdown really didn’t affect me at all. Everything we need is either delivered to our door or in close distance in a sanitized atmosphere and the virus scourge has more or less come under control here. But it’s likely we will still have restricted movement for some time to come as those overseas who thought they had it under control were surprised to see it rear its ugly head again a second time. It will be nice to have movement restored but the effects of this economically will be felt for years yet.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So good to know you’re thriving despite the lockdown–and you’re right, we must find where we can lend support, and do so. Take care of you, and stay safe, Ian.

  • vvaidehi says:

    I am staying alone with parents who are 99 and 94 years old. It is challenging, to say the least. I have stopped following the statistics regarding corona affected persons worldwide. Every morning, I send out a prayer to the Universe “sarve bhavantu sukhinaha, sarve santu niramayaah” (May all beings be happy, may all beings be free from afflictions). I am very happy that Mother Earth has got a breather. The river Ganga has become clean, something which the many “Ganga clean projects” could not achieve.

    I had just started writing fiction before the lockdown and had published my first short story on my blog. During the lockdown, in the midst of all the domestic duties, I managed to write two pieces of flash fiction and submitted them to two different contests. I may not win but I am happy with the effort.

    I do want normalcy but not of the kind where human greed dominates all actions. I hope that the world would be a better place after this pandemic is over.

    Vaidehi

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hard to be a sole caregiver–I hear you, Vaidehi. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah is my constant prayer as well.

      So very well done on the writing front–you’re already a winner in writing and submitting in the face of odds.

      Yes we need a better new normal, where those who are exploited the most today also find equal rights–it is a never-ending struggle, but we must continue to strive for equality.

  • I’m an introvert, but I miss being able to go out. My internship got put on hold, and I was supposed to start a job next month, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry to hear about that hold on your internship. It is hard to cope with all the uncertainty. I hope things return to normal as soon as possible–but looks difficult.

  • Jacqui Murray says:

    Good reflections, Damyanti. Thoughtful.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      We’re all going through these surreal times the best we can. Thanks for always stopping by.

  • it is a disorienting and scary experience. I too am indoors other than walks around the block or my backyard. I have food and family close by. I usually like being home but this feels very different, sad, and threatening. I feel very bad for those who are suffering with this virus and people on the front lines. I hope we will get back to what life was like before.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Deborah, my feelings exactly. I feel sad and stressed so much of the time–it is so hard to dissociate–I’m an empath, and try not to take things too close to my heart in situations where I can’t help.

  • Yes. Although I’m like you in that I’m privileged to have a well stocked pantry, I very much miss life as it was before. I have not seen my son and little grandson for two months. Both my son and my daughter have been laid off from their jobs. The parks are closed so we cannot walk in them. I can no longer visit with my family or my best friend. There are no hugs…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry to hear of the job losses in your family. It is hard in normal times, but during these times it is much harder.

      Parks are still open in Singapore, but the way we’re going, they will shut soon.

      No hugs is a huge burden–I can imagine a little of what you’re going through without seeing your son or new grandson. Hope things get better soon, and you’re able to meet the little guy at the earliest.

  • We can blame China for a lot, but it is real.
    I’m still working. I read about people with all this free time and it seems like I have less than before.
    But I love movies and concerts. Not sure when either will return.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Well, China can’t be proud of all its actions, but the world ha to take responsibility as well. When China finally acknowledged the truth and shut it all down, it was a fair notice (more than a month) to everyone else to take measures, and those who have done so are better off today.

  • I’m one among the privileged ones too. I am staying at home and I don’t have to worry about losing my job in the aftermath. My pantry is sufficiently stocked. Thanks to the A2Z challenge, unlimited Wi-Fi and adequate amenities, I’m even enjoying these days. My friends and family are safe. My prayers are with the affected as I pray for their fast recovery and thank God for my blessings.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So glad to hear you’re okay, and even enjoying yourself. I’m grateful for my blessings as well, but the inability to help those who are suffering sometimes takes its toll.

    • Mayur says:

      Means you are ready to fight with covid-19. Confidence is high.

  • Stu says:

    Actually, except for the far too many deaths, this has helped with reducing anxiety and anger. Not stress: that I’ve had more than enough of. I’m an Introverted/Extrovert. I can perform gigs, tell stories, lead workshops, but I’m much more satisfied in my apartment. Sucks I’m alone, but that’s really not a big change anyway.

    I found that my coping tools have been able to help friends who are climbing the walls. Simple suggestions, but when my best friend almost bit my head off over the phone, I knew he needed some helpful ideas.

    Personally, I hope that this seclusion has helped others find more of themselves, learned to fine relaxing without have THE BIG PROJECT to handle. Chilling out to music, meditation, reading, reaching out to people you haven’t talked to in a very long time, and the www is full of possible connections. Everyone just needs to balance it all.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, it really sucks to be alone, but I’m glad that you’re staying engaged in your creative pursuits, Stuart.

      We need to be there for friends, as much as possible, and I do my best over the phone/ chats. I always was a stay-at-home person, so life hasn’t changed for me too much, but this inability to step out without feeling stressed has been a burden. WFH in the family means we have all had to adjust to different schedules, and chores, but I think we’ve settled in okay.

      You’re so right, we all need to find that elusive balance. Stay safe, my kind friend, and take care of yourself.

  • Billybuc says:

    I hate to say this but I am one of the privileged. My life really hasn’t been affected by the virus. I’m an introvert to the core and despise crowds. I work from home. I have food and money and a home. What I do miss is the sense of normalcy, and I’m not sure when that will return.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      As the privileged, it does bring guilt to say we’re ok but none of us are totally okay, are we.

      Even total introverts, and I am one, would like to step out once in a while and the fact that we can’t hurts a little.

      Stay safe and take care.

    • toconnell88 says:

      In the same boat. I work from home and don’t want for too much. I never went out TOO much but being suddenly denied free, unrestricted movement makes one miss the old ways. The sense of normalcy, as you say.
      But a fairly trivial concern compared to what others are facing. Good to keep perspective.

      Stay safe, stranger πŸ™‚

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