June has been a crazy month, so crazy, I’m not sure where to begin. Do I with the happenings of the outside world? How I learned via texts about looting in Best Buy near my parents’ house, then heard about George Floyd and a state curfew and defund the police and protests? Or maybe I should talk about America opening for business before spikes in the Coronavirus reached an all-time high? Disneyland was going to re-open in July; now it’s not. New movies were weeks away; they got delayed. Turmoil erupted just as I was making my mind up to re-enter the world.
Re-entering the world meant going to Panera to do my writing. There was a restaurant not five minutes from my apartment. I drove there and ordered coffee--small hazelnut, with cream and sweetener--and chose one of the tables bearing the green circle of availability. I’d sit with my homemade mask still on my face, not drinking my coffee (lest I need to run to the bathroom), with my computer, my composition book, and my cheap ball point pen ready to go.
I had determined, early on, that the month of June felt like a test. It felt like a test on a national level, but for me, personally, I knew I needed to make substantial progress on Company or I was not going to get it published. It was time to buckle down and write.
Unfortunately, I had a problem. My roommate’s puppy, Atlas, kept demanding my attention. He whined and barked and jumped up on the kitchen stove, all to get my attention. My roommate was struggling with a host of health issues and couldn’t bring the dog in her room. My bedroom is the living room, so there was no barrier to keep the dog’s yip from drilling into my ears. Even sitting in the patio, I could hear him.
I give the dog a lot of attention. I walk him for 45 minutes in the morning and the evening. But I needed time in the morning to write. Specifically, I needed the hours between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, my most creative time. These hours were the keystone to my productivity. I could work around the dog’s schedule the rest of the day, but I needed these two hours unbroken.
It got so bad that I decided to risk going out into the world again, just to get time to write. I spoke to my roommate and my roommate’s mother to make sure they were comfortable with me breaking quarantine. My roommate’s mother also volunteered to look after the dog in the morning. I was worried about finances, the cost of going out every day, but I learned Panera had a coffee subscription. For $8.99 a month, I could get unlimited coffee. I could afford that. It seemed like all the pieces were falling into place.
Writing, when you think about it, is an unglamorous and solitary act. You spend several hours in one place, by yourself, stuck inside your own head, confronting your own emotions. So if you think that quarantine is ideally suited for a writer… it is. Now that we’re about two months in, I feel comfortable sharing what I’ve been up to as COVID-19 rages on.
Phase 1: Stress and Anxiety
Somewhere in the middle of March, the world as we knew it shut down. It was on a Thursday, when Tom Hanks tested positive for the Coronavirus, Disneyland shut down, and the stock market plunged. At that point, I realized something very serious was going on. That weekend, I went to Panera to eat a bagel and journal about my anxieties. It would be the last time I sat down at a restaurant for many months to come.
My life was already in upheaval. I had moved into a new apartment at the end of February, with my friend Rita. She suffers from chronic pain and a host of other conditions, none of which were helped when she fell down the stairs and got a concussion 4 days after I moved in. With her being incapacitated, it fell to me to take care of her new Belgian sheep dog, Atlas. I had barely gotten the apartment equipped and was beginning to contemplate looking for a job, when quarantine hit.
I’m used to my life being a mess. I was not used to the world being a mess along side me. The anxieties built and built within me. For a writer, this can be a good thing. The higher my emotions, the easier it is to write. In this case, though, I was supposed to be focused on completing Company, my novel about a ghost and an imaginary friend, and I couldn’t focus. I journaled a bit, watched a little T.V., and played around with some other story ideas.
This phase lasted for about a week.
Last weekend, I was feeling anxious and no wonder. Between everything from schools to Disneyland being shut down, the stock market crashing, and grocery stores with whole sections gutted, it felt like the end of the world. I didn't know what to do, so I started re-watching my favorite Star Wars movie. I remembered how much I loved epic fantasy. Earlier, I'd dealt with the stress of moving by getting lost in a fantasy romance book. I was reminded just why I fell in love with fantasy. For me at least, there is something about fantasy that gives me hope when times are tough.
I don't think I'm alone in feeling anxious, and I wanted to do something to help. Since fantasy stories help me cope with stress and since it seems like many people have a lot of free time on their hands, I thought I'd offer the three fantasy books I wrote for free on Amazon. You can download them without leaving the house, kill a day or two reading, and hopefully emerge refreshed. I know in the grand scheme of things it may not be much, but I want to help people feel better during these troubled times.
Click on Picture Below to Get Free Book on Amazon Kindle
Free from Thursday, March 19 to Monday, March 23
My books will be free for five days, from Thursday, March 19 to Monday, March 23, 2020, which is the maximum amount of time that Amazon will allow me. So if you think you might at all be interested in these books, get them quickly. At $0, what do you have to lose. Get one or all three. And if you think anyone else might be interested, please share this link with them.
If reading's not your thing, what does help to ease your anxiety in times of stress? Are there any fantasy books, free or not, you recommend reading? Let me know in the comments. And please, take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Stay safe.
Hello. I’m Rebecca Lang, and I’m a small, independent writer and publisher. I write fantasy stories, because I love writing and because I hope that my stories have something meaningful to say. Being a small independent author gives me the artistic freedom to deliver the best product I can, but the downside is that I don’t have the resources or marketing skills of a big publishing company. So I’m looking for readers who are interested in helping me out by becoming a Beta Reader for my latest novel, Company.
Writer. Critic. Dreamer.