I’ve attached myself to a number of author’s groups lately, a couple on Facebook and some semi-professional commentary services (which you pay for). To my surprise the Facebook groups have been a great source of interest and support, in a strangely tangled way. One of the groups often publishes reports by Amazon authors showing how much money they have made in the past few months while the world goes completely insane. This is amazing but also galling when you realise that what is now selling so hugely is aimed at highly specific genre audiences of which the average literary author would not have heard in a million years. My latest find is Reverse Harem Romance (RHR). Wait a bit and I will write more about it soon. What a discovery!
However this morning – a beautiful cool spring morning in the blossoming Blue Mountains, I started thinking about how the various levels of lockdown and state-mandated or recommended forms of isolation have affected the average writer and reader. Thinking of an image, I recalled Caspar David Friedrich’s famous painting, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818, whch seemed to represent exactly the way things seem to be right now. I have used a bit of it in the banner headline above.
Over the next few weeks I thought of writing about this strange reality, the sense of being stranded before an unknown world which swirls upwards and threatens to engulf you even while you are still thinking and working and trying to ignore it.
Certainly working: I am struggling to finish the editing, organisation and fussbudgeting involved in publishing my two books of short stories and the memoir, all in the genre of semi-auto-ethno-fiction. Not to mention the putting together and final editing of two other semi-ethno-factual projects, a cookbook based on Australia history and a personal narrative/collection about the Hawkesbury River, my heartland place.
The intensity of work that has been going on as COVID-19 stretches on and bids fair to hit the twelve month mark (or more) has raised some deeply personal issues about retreat, aloneness, isolation, the loss of family, solitude in loved places, and a state of enthusiastic defiance which says: no, even now, with a horrendous potential death drowning in my own fetid lung juices clearly a possibility, even so, I won’t stop, I won’t stop writing and I won’t stop reading and I hope you won’t either.
The last time I saw my lovely granddaughter Lily Luna was in Melbourne in June 2019, when I took many photographs, none so prescient as the one below, a representation of the future which is now with us, the Melbourne Lockdown. Meanwile Lily is stranded in Thailand with her fiance Alfie and we have no idea when we will see each other again.