Dreaming of Another World is a new feature on my blog where I welcome a fellow writer or blogger on to talk about their hopes for the future, post Covid-19. During lockdown, I wondered whether other creatives felt like me – like another world was possible and could just be glimpsed once we were forced to stay still. I’ve had a great response and each week I will be publishing a post written by a guest – sharing their thoughts, feelings, experiences and hopes during this strange time. How have they coped during lockdown and has it changed their lives in any way or made them yearn for a different kind of world? Today please welcome fantasy author Fiona Phillips.
DREAMING OF ANOTHER WORLD
Like many people, I watched the news on the Covid-19 outbreak in China with an initial ‘oh, that’s interesting but it doesn’t affect me’ attitude. China was way too far away and remote to make any difference to me and mine. Wasn’t it?
Of course, that wasn’t true. In what seemed like no time at all, the UK went into lockdown. Life, in many ways, came to a halt. Workplaces closed their doors, as did high street shops, bars, and restaurants. Schools sent their pupils home. Colleges and universities followed suit.
Personally, I was in shock – I don’t think I was alone in that – and scared. I checked in on family and friends, gathered my husband and teens around me, and waited.
Weeks turned into months. Shock turned into acceptance, and even a little joy in the new, pared-down, quieter world. And then, like so many other people, I began to wonder what our new world might look like.
To my parents, community was everything. Their community included family – near and far – and friends. It included neighbours and the local shops. It even included the people they worked with, and the faces they chatted with at the bus stop or in the newsagent each day. Community was just a given. It was there.
Changes to the way we live nowadays though has gradually chipped away at that community, or at least that concept of community.
What became increasingly obvious during lockdown was how many of us re-connected online and through video-calls. Our family visits to see my mother-in-law, for instance, have been replaced by regular video-chats, with her dog and ours joining in with their own yip-yapped conversation in the background. Friends have taken advantage of group video calls to ‘meet up’ for quiz nights or cocktail parties. Even TV programmes like Staged have followed the trend.
Whether it’s by phone, video-chat, email, or plain old letter, most of us have realised how important it is to check in on each other.
I hope that the ‘new’ normal will see that continue, not so much face-to-face community being replaced by online community, but the ongoing communication lines we’ve established during lockdown. I hope we continue to care about and stay in touch with the people we know, even if we don’t see them every day.
Pubs, clubs, cinemas, and theatre.
Visits to the park, team-jogging and walks in the countryside.
High-street shopping, coffee shop meet-ups and restaurant date nights.
All of those changed during lockdown. The things that I missed the most were not being able to meet up with friends for a coffee, no family cinema trips, and the end of meals out with my husband.
But then, as human beings do, we adapted. Our local theatre – the Story House in Chester – started a streaming service and held a drive-in film viewing. Our favourite restaurants turned into take-away services. Netflix and the like saw a massive uptake as film nights out became film nights in.
With so many children at home and workplaces closed, families had extra time to spend together. One of the mums on the estate where I live spent time crafting with her two young daughters and set up a treasure hunt, leaving hand-painted pebbles and pine-cones created by her girls for other local children to find.
With only the necessary shops opens – supermarkets, corner shops – the ritual of retail therapy on the high street ceased for the most part. Of course, it was replaced by online shopping – Amazon has never had it so good – but with incomes reduced or at threat by the lockdown, a lot of us buttoned our purses and relied on the necessities to get by.
The lockdown made me consider what I needed, rather than what I wanted.
As a work-from-home author and copywriter, you might have thought that my work-life wouldn’t be that different during lockdown. What did change was the balance between my two roles. My copywriting clients either shut up shop during the lockdown or decided that they couldn’t afford to outsource their blog posts and social media content.
With little work on that side, I found I had a lot more time to spend working on my novel. By the summer, I had emailed off the first draft to my publisher and started to plan a non-fiction book.
My husband is employed but works remotely from home. The main difference he noticed was the growing number of his colleagues working from home too.
Flexible working, including remote working, has been an increasingly popular approach to work over the last few years. Or rather, it’s been popular with employees. Businesses have generally been less eager to jump on-board. 2020 may well have changed that.
Businesses can’t ignore the fact that many of them have been able to operate during the lockdown with a remote workforce. As a result, employees may now be able to prove that they can do their job perfectly well from home. 2020 was their dry run.
Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
During the lockdown, it was easy to feel powerless and that you couldn’t make a difference. That didn’t stop some people though.
From the high school boys who began a free food delivery service to the elderly in their community, to the ‘shop’ set up in a garage by the locals on my estate for residents who couldn’t get out or afford supplies, ordinary people have shown how wonderful they are.
I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to an anthology to raise money for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal. 2020 Together: an Anthology of Shorts has to date raised over £500 and is still selling.
My debut novel, Haven Wakes – published by Burning Chair last year – is set ninety years from now in a world that has overcome global warming and rising sea levels and is assisted by a plentiful supply of robots.
This summer I finished the follow up novel in the series – as yet untitled – and I extended the effects that environmental concerns had had to that world. For instance, to guard against rising sea levels, most cities built up, raising their skirts to a safe level. But what about villages and rural communities – what would they do to survive?
The lockdown got me thinking about how writers might reflect the pandemic in their novels. There’s no denying the fact that if your novel is set in our world in 2020, it’ll be difficult to write about school-days, picnics in the park, or big, lavish weddings.
I haven’t mentioned the pandemic in my latest novel, but that may change in future edits. The effects of the Covid-19 lockdown may be relevant in other books in the series too.
Any author writing novels set in the 2020s and beyond will have to factor in the pandemic if they want to keep their readers’ feet in this world.
Dreaming Of Another World?
2020 has been a challenge, but at no point have I wished for another world. This world is what we’ve got and if the pandemic has proved anything, it’s that there is a lot to be grateful for right here.
We just have to remember what we’ve learnt through the lockdown and keep it going.
Thank you so much to Fiona for coming on The Glorious Outsiders and sharing her thoughts on lockdown and the future. If you would like to know more about Fiona and her books just follow the links below!
Fi Phillips is a fantasy author and real-life copywriter living in North Wales with her family and a cockapoo called Bailey.
She likes to write about magical possibilities.
Connect with her online:
Website – http://fiphillipswriter.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/FisWritingHaven
Haven Wakes on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Haven-Wakes-Chronicles-Book-One-ebook/dp/B07WJ4YFNX
2020 Together on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/2020-Together-Anthology-Tracy-Hutchinson/dp/B08D4T84BF