Early this year, I started working on another book. Here’s what I wrote in the draft introduction.
There was a saying going around when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, reminding us that, while we were all weathering in the same storm, we were doing so in different boats. The experiences of people we saw on the news didn’t always mesh with ours because we live in different places, belong to different demographics, our government authorities instituted different regulations according to different timelines, and our personal choices did not always align with what we saw on mainstream media. The impact on a senior living in British Columbia differed vastly from what it was like for a 20-something in Florida.
I mean this book to tell a story—my story—that of a sixty-something-year-old woman living in British Columbia, Canada, in 2020 and 2021, who struggled mightily with her mental health during that time. I tell it with no political or other bias, by way of assorted posts that appeared on my blog, A Slice of Life (https://www.lindahoye.com), social media posts, and journal entries. Interspersed throughout the pages are descriptions of Provincial Health Orders directed by our medical officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. This is not a comprehensive list of restrictions put into place in our province; it’s just a sampling to provide context and I include them with no commentary. When this is all over, and one day it will be, the narrative we are left with should not only be the one told through the filter of mainstream media. To get a more complete picture, we must read stories about the experience of individuals. This book is my contribution to that larger story.
I set the work aside in early summer to focus on other things. A friend asked me about it the other day, and that prompted me to pull up the manuscript (all 104496 words of it) and see where I left off. From the first words, I found it hard to read and the trauma of those years settled into my gut like a brick. Maybe it’s still too soon, but I don’t think I can go back there. I don’t want to go back there. I always intended this work to be a chronicle for the benefit of those who will follow me (grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on). The manuscript is unedited and I’ve decided it will remain so. I’m going to move forward with getting it into book format and then I’ll tuck the books away for someone to pick up in the future.
I still think this is important work and I have a question for you. Have you chronicled your own experience of the past few years for the benefit of future generations? You may not want to write an entire book, but even a collection of essays put together would be an important legacy to leave to those who will come after you. I hope you’ll consider it.
these past two or three years have been tough, pivotal years for us all. I, too, struggled and in some respects struggle still as I hit the big 7-0. You made me think that perhaps I should at least chronicle these times…hmmm…
I hope you do, Sara. As you know, it’s important to leave our stories for those who will come after us.
I hope you continue to work on your book, Linda. It sounds like it will be worth reading (though intense for you to write.) I’ve keep several essays about the pandemic as well as a sketchbook that I filled with what I observed during SIP. The sktechbook went to the Brooklyn Art Library, which houses the largest collection of artists’ sketchbooks that I know of. Unfortunately, during their move to Florida the truck containing the sketchbooks was in an accident and caught fire with many sketchbooks destroyed. Luckily, three of the 4 sketchbooks that I had submitted to them one the years where retrieved in good condition. My COVID diary was not. It survives as a digital version on their website (and I still have the original essays in my computer — though not the sketches). It was a good reminder to keep several copies in different ways of important material.
You give me much food for thought, Martha. Good for you for contributing to the larger story with your work!