Write about what you see, hear, and experience in the world. That’s the advice always given to writers. But unless you’re writing about a dystopian future, filled with zombies, death, and destruction, the world isn’t very inspiring these days, not for a happily ever after kind of romance writer like me, anyway.
And yet as I thought about writing this blog more deeply, what I said above isn’t entirely true. Even in the darkest of times, there is always some chink of light. As I write this, my area of Scotland is in lockdown again, with only essential food shops open.
People are weary, and life seems like it will never get back to normal, but in some ways I don’t think we should return to the old normal. Living through this pandemic has brought about some changes that are worth keeping.
The first is the way we have come to appreciate our health service, our doctors, nurses, and caregivers. During the first big lockdown in the UK, it felt like we had our attention concentrated for us, and saw first-hand on our news reports every day, the wonderful people of our NHS fighting this virus, and risking their lives for their community.
A sense of community was the big thing that grew during lockdown. Community is something has eroded over the years, and we have become a much more individualistic people, but neighbours were checking on vulnerable people, making sure they had enough food, essentials, and were safe and sound.
Plus, people were inspired to do anything they could to raise money for their local communities and the NHS. No matter how bad things became you could see that the virus was not going break our human spirit and sense of fellow feeling.
Lastly, and the biggest lesson I have taken from this pandemic is the importance of family. Being told you can’t see your elderly parents, your sister and nieces, made me appreciate them all the more.
I Facetimed my mum and dad every day, just to keep connected to them, and now I realise how much they appreciate seeing me each day, rather than just a phone call. It’s something that I will keep up even when things go back to normal, if normal will even look the same.
Then there’s my love and appreciation of my life with my partner, Lou. Our lives have changed remarkably. I write full time so I’m always at home with our dog Barney. Lou’s job demands that she travel all over Scotland and sometimes just over the border into England, so her days are long.
Since the first lockdown began, she’s been working from home. Normally you hear that when you live together and work together 24/7, that you’ll begin to argue and feel a little claustrophobic. Familiarity breeds contempt, kind of thing, but the opposite is true for us, we have absolutely loved it, and it’s made our relationship even stronger. We got into a lovely routine, Lou working in her office and me writing next door, both in our own little worlds, but still together. Our dog Barney has especially loved having Lou at home, since she’s his favourite person in the world.
It was hard on him and me when she went back out to work just over a month ago, but we didn’t expect a short time later we’d be back to we started in lockdown and our little routine at home. This time spent together has only intensified our love and relationship, and I’m so grateful to have her.
When you look at the world just a little deeper, those three things stick out as important, love, family, and community. I spent most of lockdown writing a book called Home Is where The Heart Is. It’s a small village romance where the core values of the story are about Love, family, and community. So, when you scratch under the surface of a global pandemic, even there you can find the inspiration for a happily ever after, romance writer.