Forty. Forty days in the desert. Forty years wandering the wilderness. Forty days of Covid-19 'lockdown' or 'stay at home' mandated by the government here in South Africa. Phew, forty is the magic number for trials and tribulations, clearly! Mind you, life begins at 40...
I can't say I've particularly enjoyed my personal forty-day experience. There's something deeply depriving about having to stay in one place, without distractions and diversions, for a prolonged period of time. Forsaking freedoms which I take for granted for the sake of a common good as much as for personal safety, stretches me.
I've chosen to write little about my experiences or opinions during this time; so many people seem to be saying so much, I felt additional input from me was at best unnecessary and at worst unhelpful. Besides, I've struggled to accurately pinpoint exactly what my reactions have been or to express those reactions in a coherent manner (a tough place to be for someone who's supposed to be a writer!). I've generally found myself unable to focus, or when focussed unable to motivate myself. And I have felt tired a lot of the time.
But, I have to say I find I've been pretty productive in many ways. After the first couple of days spent in a bit of an undisciplined spiral, I recognised the need to have a daily project or goal which I could complete with relative ease and so at least have a small sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. I woke up on that Saturday morning with a great idea - I would crochet a 'granny square' every day for the period of time that we would be under lockdown. I would then have a visual reminder of the time without the effort of having to try and put pen to paper each day that we were stuck at home. At the end of each day, I've been posting a pic of that day's completed square so friends can follow my progress. It's been fun to have a couple of others join me in the project, whilst a spin-off writing idea is also on the horizon. So watch this space for more on that.
I also set myself another daily task which was to record a chapter of my book 'The Outskirts of His Glory' in preparation for making it available as an audiobook in the near future. The recording is now all complete, and the sound engineer is busy doing his thing. I'll be super excited to announce when that becomes available. It was interesting to see just how much God spoke to me all over again as I read and recorded what I'd previously committed to paper. His word is alive and active whatever the season or passage of time.
Incidentally, 'Outskirts' had its first birthday just a couple of days ago. Funny to think that this time last year I was busy running around collecting boxes of books and gifts, organising launch parties and ladies' teas. What difference a year makes.
In terms of writing, I've been amazed at how many opportunities have come my way just over the last few weeks. I've participated in a number of international Christian authors' promotional events, sharing both 'Outskirts' and an eBook version of my blog 'Twenty Years an Expat'.
I've also started contributing to a beautiful American magazine 'Oh Wondrous Grace'. Aimed at mid-life women, I may be a little young but I am creeping in that direction and so am delighted to be part of this new publication. It's available both in printed and digital versions, if you're interested in getting a copy. Just click the magazine cover art and that'll take you straight to their website.
Exciting New Collection
'Poetry and Prayers' is a selection of poems I've written for the 12 Poems challenge I continue to participate in, only now with added background and inspirational content. I'm making the eBook version available as a free download from tomorrow, so keep an eye out on my social media pages so you can get your copy. Once printers are again open for business, I also intend to have a few printed. I'll keep you updated on that.
And the final project that has been keeping me up at night is the development and launch of an online books and gift store. Prompted by the encouragement of a friend, Captivated Gifts will sell a range of Christian books and a carefully curated selection of artisanal gifts across South Africa. I'm still at the stage of getting all my ducks in a row on that one, but can't wait to organise another (virtual) launch party soon!
Family and Friends
One thing I have really enjoyed over the last few weeks has been the necessity to be deliberate and intentional about keeping in touch with family and friends. I've spoken to my parents and sister more than we would ever normally be able to, the busyness of life keeping us apart as much as the miles do. And then there have been the friends, with whom I've been able to be honest about the struggles, or just have a laugh over a virtual drink together. I've valued those conversations and connections greatly. I will hold onto them long into the future, past the end of any externally imposed lockdown.
I'm excited about that...