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On Being Stuck At Home



Villa Diodati: Lake Geneva in Switzerland
The Origins Of Frankenstein, Vampires & Gothic Horror

Last week, I found it difficult to focus. There was a constant urge to check up on the alarming developments in the media.

But NY Book Editors continued to receive work, and one of our authors even checked in to see if she could get her edit early, “I only ask because I am stuck at home ~ like most people ~ and thinking it would be a good use of my time to start re-working my manuscript as needed.”

This jolted me out of my news-consuming zombie state. Here was someone making the best use of her time. Nathan Bransford mentioned that Mary Shelley had done the same thing.

In the summer of 1816, Europe was covered in fog from volcanic ash, suffering from a famine and a cholera epidemic to boot. Shelley and her husband were staying at the Villa Diodati with Byron in Switzerland, where the group had to remain indoors nearly the entire time.

The bleak conditions and shared evening ghost stories led her to write the classic Frankenstein and Byron to write his epic poem Prometheus.

In spite of everything, we scribblers are lucky that all we need to pursue our craft is some solitude and a notebook.

Don’t worry if you haven’t managed to focus on your writing yet. Be gentle with yourself right now. Trust that there will come a point at which you’ll be ready to rise to the occasion and surprise everyone.

It applies to almost every genre. As Vera Tobin says, “Stories that aim to entertain should be surprising.”

I hope we can come together as a community during this time, continue to learn new writing skills, and devote some of our attention to impactful and entertaining new stories.

Stay well, my daring writers.

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