Today it's my pleasure to hand the reins of the blog over to author Michelle Kidd to talk about how she managed to complete her third novel ahead of schedule during lockdown.
As a full time NHS worker, life altered in ways that no one could have foreseen. Suddenly, my local hospital was no longer full of patients and visitors; instead the corridors were eerily empty, taking on the feel of a ghost town. Anybody you did see was dressed head to toe in protective equipment. It was very shocking and very surreal – almost like a scene from a supernatural thriller or a disaster movie.
As a writer, I wasn’t quite sure how lockdown would affect me and, more importantly, my writing. I was still going to be working full time with the day job – and as for the writing? Well, we’re a pretty solitary bunch at the best of times, so how would it affect me? What would it mean for my creativity? Would I be able to string a sentence together? Or would I struggle?
I was fortunate enough to work from home for most of the time, so I found myself juggling an eight hour working day plus trying to finish my third novel. I had a tentative publication date in mind of December 2020/January 2021 – but was I going to make it in these unprecedented times?
The short answer was – yes. My third novel was published on 9th August 2020, a full five months or so early. I know, it surprised me too! So how on earth did it happen?
One thing I learnt very early on during lockdown was that days suddenly had more hours in them than the traditional twenty-four. With no gym or work to travel to in the mornings, and being required to stay at home except for essential trips, the hours stretched out endlessly, and time seemed to slow.
It was as if the clocks were going backwards rather than forwards - as if I had plunged into some AA Milne or Willie Wonka type scenario from which I would soon wake up.
The hours stretched into days, the days stretched into weeks. Time, it seemed, had no real meaning or purpose anymore. Instead of cramming a few hours of writing in at the weekends, I suddenly found I had extra time during these super-long days – time I could use.
And so I wrote.
As I mentioned, us writers to tend to like the solitary life, wrapped up in our own little creative worlds – and this is especially true for a fiction writer. So, finding myself in the confines of my own house for the vast majority of the time, with a notebook and pen never far away, I wrote faster than I had ever written before.
But I was extremely fortunate – my friends and family were healthy; the town I live in was not a hot-spot; my job was safe and secure. For that I am truly thankful.
I had no real concerns over Covid-19 other than the usual worries we all had – “will it ever go away?” “Will life ever get back to normal?” “Are those I love staying safe?” In the early days, I was also faced with the quandary of whether shopping for notepads and pens (I write longhand!) would be considered a trip out for essential items??
At the time of writing this, lockdown has eased somewhat and we are trying a new kind of normal. Things are not quite the same as they were before, but do we want to go back to what was ‘normal’ before Covid-19? Some aspects of lockdown have been positive – the reduced traffic on the roads; the ability to hear the birds singing in the garden; waving to neighbours over the garden fence to make sure they are doing OK - maybe neighbours you rarely saw before, let alone conversed with.
Also, I think we have all learnt who the real keyworkers in our society are – and it may not have been those that we expected. It’s not the multi-millionaire businessmen and women. It’s not the reality TV stars. It’s ordinary people. It’s our shop workers. It’s our bus and train drivers. It’s our supermarket delivery drivers, and our refuse collectors. It’s our doctors, nurses and carers.
Some aspects of ‘normal’ I hope we don’t return to.
The Fifteen was published on 9th August this year. As I mentioned before, a full five months or so earlier than expected. And I can only put that down to my enforced incarceration – I no longer had the excuse that I just didn’t have the time to write that ending to that chapter, or I didn’t have time to think of a new character to introduce into the story, or know how the plot was going to pan out towards the end.
I had time. I had plenty of it. And I was determined to put it to good use. I wrote every day, and more so at the weekends. With nowhere to go, except the weekly trip to the supermarket, I had no excuses.
To put things into context, my debut novel, The Phoenix Project, published in 2018, took me eight years to complete. Admittedly, the vast majority of that time was spent languishing under my bed before I had the courage to show it to anybody. But to have completed my third novel in some six months is nothing short of astonishing and not something I could have anticipated at the beginning of the year.
So, we are starting to emerge from our houses as if we have been tortoises tucked away for hibernation. I am still working mostly from home, so days still have more hours than the clocks would have you believe and I am starting to write Book Four……who knows how long this one will take me………
Michelle Kidd is a self-published author known for the Detective Inspector Jack MacIntosh series of novels.
Michelle qualified as a lawyer in the early 1990s and spent the best part of ten years practising civil and criminal litigation.
But the dream to write books was never far from her mind and in 2008 she began writing the manuscript that would become the first DI Jack MacIntosh novel – The Phoenix Project. The book took eighteen months to write, but spent the next eight years gathering dust underneath the bed.
In 2018 Michelle self-published The Phoenix Project and has not looked back since. There are currently three DI Jack MacIntosh novels, with a fourth in progress.
Michelle works full time for the NHS and lives in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. She enjoys reading, wine and cats – not necessarily in that order ☺
Social Media links:
Facebook: Michelle Kidd author
The Phoenix Project - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HVXMDM5
Seven Days - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08413GDYQ
The Fifteen - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08FH5WH9L