Anne, COVID, and plunging back into the novel

Anne with an E

Started to watch the new, and apparently last, season of CBC’s Anne with an E. While I quite enjoyed the first two seasons, found the exploration of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved Islander character from the point of view of PTSD survivor a fascinating and well-drawn perspective, I’m afraid just short minutes into the first episode of season three put me off so intensely I doubt I’ll go back to give it a second try.

The reason for my visceral reaction was outrage regarding the portrayal of First Nations, which was just shy of “Me, Tonto.” It left me wondering just how unenlightened the writers were. I was embarrassed and angry for any First Nations individual, and embarrassed and angry for the actors who portrayed the fictional characters, in particular Mohawk actor Kiawentiio. Great exposure for her, but a role written entirely from a white colonial perspective, and frankly politely racist. CBC, you could do much better. And have, with productions like North of 60. But it is entirely possible I’m being oversensitive. I just don’t know any more.

COVID-19 and idiot people

Being a recluse has its advantages, and certainly the lock-down which was required of most Canadians imposed little discomfort for me. I like being alone, or in the company of a select few. I detest shopping, having to make polite conversation and navigating public spaces. Certainly during the eight weeks of elder care to which we subjected ourselves stretched the boundaries of my comfort zone in that there was an army of healthcare workers who paraded through our space, all adhering to health requirements, but still far more people in my private space than I’m accustomed.

Now the eldercare is over, I’m still finding being around people difficult not only from the point of view of social reluctance, but from the point of view of their complete disregard for any kind of preventative measures people all over the world have been using for the first six months of 2020. Not only is there a distressing lack of mask usage, but social distancing and protocols seem to be merely inconvenient guidelines, as if this virulent virus isn’t really a threat. Everyone seems to be galloping backwards into society as it was before 2020, instead of navigating carefully and with prudence into the new world into which we have, in fact, emerged.

You only have to read the scientific data streaming our way to realize herd immunity isn’t going to happen. This virus is far more complex and insidious than previously thought. If you do contract COVID-19, and survive, it’s likely your life will forever change because you’re never really going to recover. COVID’s going to mess with your immune system, screw with your cellular structure and leave you with a variety of permanent health problems which at best will leave you with chronic fatigue, at worst with pulmonary or neurological disorders. This is serious stuff, people. So wear your damned masks over your nose and mouth. Just do it. Don’t touch things you don’t absolutely need to touch. Keep the required distance from other people. Observe protocols retailers have set up in order to control the flow of traffic. Just do it. Don’t be an idiot. And wash your damned hands. A lot.

Back to the novel

In a somewhat desultory fashion I opened Hekja’s Lament, and reread some of what I’d previously written. Grudgingly, I thought it wasn’t half bad, certainly worth continuing, worth finishing. The opening is okay, although I’m uncertain I’ve sufficiently set the tone and hook. It opens with a hunt for slaves, a pounding pursuit across Scappa’s craggy landscape. It’s grim and heartless, and continues that way for pages and pages. So, yeah, I guess I’ve set the tone for the rest of the novel. But we’ll see.

When will I have it finished? Good the gods, I haven’t a clue. It takes me years to write a novel. I’m not one of those brilliant writers who can toss off an entire, captivating work of art in months. I’m more of a plodder, endlessly going over and over sections to make sure I have the point of view, the narrative, the tension just so. I think a lot. And then I rethink because certainly the first thing I think can’t possibly be the right way to go. And then when thinking isn’t enough, I plunge into a new aspect of research, because it matters to me to know whether this leather bottle was waxed, and with what, and how, like as if that matters at all to the reader. But it matters to me, because I need to know how that leather bottle feels, and what the liquid tastes like that comes out of that bottle. And thus and so. Ridiculous detail.

So, yeah, Hekja’s Lament is back on the board, but it’s going to be slow. So. Very. Slow.

Anyway, that’s all for now, peeps. Thanks for stopping by. Buy my books, please. They’re available through this site in print and ebook. They’re also available through your favourite online bookseller in print, ebook and audiobook. You can also borrow them from a elibrary service. And all those options are available internationally.

Be well. Be safe. Until we meet again.