Fighting Cabin Fever in the Time of COVID
It’s strange to be in publishing when an international health and financial crisis is happening—otherwise known as COVID. When I was in third grade, I remember seeing the Challenger explode after takeoff, along with my entire classroom (and the rest of the world). I remember when Kirk Cobain died. I remember 9/11. And I will always remember the recession that happened in 2009, as it coincided while Red Sofa Literary was in its early stages of existence.
These larger events shared with the world’s population will always be in the back of my mind, reminding me of the value of human lives and how we treat one another before, during, and afterwards.
I never imagined that a little-known flu virus would cause our lives to come to a screeching halt. Many are self-isolated at home, others live in places where shelter-in-place orders have been issued. And while some may already have a gauge of how to live the introvert lifestyle, it’s a huge adjustment for those who thrive in the company of others.
Books bring people together, even if we read them apart from one another. Books often provide escape during times of anxiety and stress. But those books are associated with people too. The people who write them as well as the people who edit, market, distribute, and sell them. When the world is facing uncertainty, this is certainly a time to pick up a book, step back from the screen(s) in your life, and spend virtual time with the product(s) of all that hard work.
How can you help the world we call “book” as we weather this time of isolation?
- Order books from your local bookstore. There are bookstores all over the country that are happy to ship orders as well as provide curbside pickup. A quick visit to IndieBound.org or BookShop.org will provide easy access. Purchasing a book, whether it’s for yourself or another person, means a bookstore could survive temporary closure to the public and that their staff will hopefully be taken care of.
- Support writers! Did you know that many authors are doing readings online as well as planning virtual book launches? Jenna Blum and Caroline Leavitt launched an online platform, A Mighty Blaze, to help authors with their book releases after the COVID outbreak. I’m also seeing Zoom and FaceBook storytimes—with a few celebs participating, no less. Access to a camera and a screen means a chance to share your new book; and maybe you can help a fellow author out too.
- This leads to the soon-to-be virtual WordPlay. I know I’m not alone in my excitement to see this year’s authors from the comfort of my home, as it means I still get to buy their books and attend readings without fear of getting COVID. This is a great way to bring community together, both readers and writers, when it’s needed more than ever before. While I look forward to this happening in-person next year, virtual Wordplay will add a little sunlight to an otherwise dark time.
- For any readers who write, don’t feel like you have to be in full-creative mode while at home. It’s understood that you’ll need to balance the dynamics of self-care and taking care of your family before any writing happens. There’s a lot to process in this crisis, and some of the best ideas will come to the surface if you take the time to step back, reassess, and go back to the basics. I’ve had aa equally hard time focusing, as the news is a fire hose that never turns off. Even just taking a walk every day has helped me process this new norm. (Granted, I look forward to the day we can sit in bookstores again for readings.)
As I look back at those moments in history that left an indelible mark on my life, I know that this time of COVID is only temporary. But I know, collectively, this experience has been a game-changer in how books reach readers. I can only hope, as we eventually resume life in public places, the support provided to bookstores and writers will continue long afterwards. And that as a writer, you’ll always know to look back and remember you’re not alone.