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Covid, Chaos, and Creativity

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

I feel I owe the world an apology.

In March, the pandemic dropped over us all like a crop duster full of freeze-dried dog shit ground to a fine powder. In a matter of days, I watched as the world began breaking down under the strain of this unanticipated disaster. My PTSD symptoms spiked, setting me so on edge I had to give up my morning cup of coffee (and it's a very small cup). As my family and I frantically tried to prepare ourselves for the worst, while still hoping for the best, our personal lives—as if linked to some cosmic detonator—started unraveling at the seams.

I could go into the ugly details, but I'm not sure either of us is ready for that. Suffice to say, five months of chaotic misery gripped us by all our tender parts. We did our best to stay afloat, to respond reasonably in real time to what was happening, to care for each other and ourselves. But we did not come out the same. Not by a long shot. And I feel, standing squarely in a patch of calm that may or may not last, embattled and a bit fragile still. A little shaky on my feet. A little worse for the wear.

There's a scene in one of my favorite childhood movies, The 'Burbs, where Tom Hanks' character emerges from an explosion. His head is wrapped by paramedics, and his eye covered, and one finger is put into a splint, his shirt in burned tatters. "I've been blown up," he cries after losing his temper, throwing himself onto a stretcher. "Take me to the hospital! Take me to the hospital. I'm sick."

Yeah. I feel a little like that.

Just before the proverbial rug was pulled out from under everyone, and then used to smack us personally upside the head, I was on a roll. I had it down. Drafting, editing, social media, blogging, bookstagramming... I had a pattern established. I was kicking ass and taking names. I was on fire. Until I wasn't. Until my nervous system bottomed out and the world started going down in flames around me and everything began to feel utterly, irrevocably pointless. And really, the best I could do was keep breathing, keep writing, keep trying to hold us together in gale force winds.

Creativity, for me as it turns out, does not thrive in chaos. I need a careful balance of structure and spontaneity. The difference between spontaneity and chaos is that in the first, I'm calling the shots, and in the second, I'm being shot at. So I let everything drop, and I held fast to my sanity and the trickle of creative writing I could maintain. I am only just now finding my flow again, getting my groove back. I feel like Dorothy in the hurricane being spit out over Oz. I finally figured out how to work my ruby slippers.

But it's just in time for the third anniversary of my daughter's death. And then, once I've managed put the pieces of myself back together, I will blink, and the holidays will be upon us. And my second novel, THE SALT IN OUR BLOOD, will be releasing (*ahem* March 2, 2021). And there's really no time to gather my wits in between. I have reached one shore long enough to take a breath and dive back in.

So, my apologies for falling off the planet. Now that I'm back, I hope I get stay for a while.

THE SALT IN OUR BLOOD - Coming March 2, 2021!

Ten years ago, Cat’s volatile mother, Mary, left her at her grandmother’s house with nothing but a deck of tarot cards. When Cat’s grandmother dies, she’s forced to move to New Orleans with her mother. There, she unravels a dark family history that challenges her belief that Mary’s mental health issues are the root of their problems. But as Cat explores the reasons for her mother’s breakdown, she fears she is experiencing her own. Ever since she arrived in New Orleans, she’s been haunted by strangely familiar visitors who know more than they should. Unsure if she can rebuild her relationship with her mother, she must confront her past, her future, and herself in the fight to try.

"Literary without being too verbose, the sheer language of the story qualifies it as a fantastic read." –Foreword Reviews on RESURRECTION GIRLS, starred

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