Suddenly, it seems, we find that we are all in a very strange, new situation. The Covid-19 crisis has come at us like a high tide, such as the one I experienced in Venice not that long ago. It will be known one day as a leveller of people just as a tide is a leveller of land. We are all now in hiding, alone together, in the same lock-down, stay-home, don't dare move or breathe boat.
As with everyone else at the moment, here at Hobeck we are finding this new journey we are all on very peculiar. It isn't a terribly exciting journey. Instead, it is quite frightening.
In one respect, it feels as if this journey is offering us the opportunity to work harder since we are both are stuck at home, with more hours to fill. We've both lost our routine which includes school runs, trips to see family and every day pottering. In another respect, the journey has robbed us of our focus. We are both struggling to concentrate on work. There is a slight holiday feel to this-being-at-home-all-the-time, we-are-all-in-this-together lark. Yet, it isn't a holiday. My mind keeps flitting between different thoughts, trying to process information. My time is divided between making sure everyone is fed, watered, educated, entertained and cared for. There hasn't been much time for anything else. And the last thing my mind seems to want to do is sit down and work.
We have both learnt, though, through our own careers and personal journeys that during times of crisis there is a choice of two directions to go in: round in circles (the choice of worry and anxiety) or forwards (utilising the opportunity to make something, whatever it may be, positive out of a negative).
To this end, after coming full circle a few times, one morning last week we had a light bulb moment. We decided to open up a short-story competition. We want people to have something with which to occupy their time and focus their busy, anxious minds on that is away from That Virus. We want to try to raise some money and do something for the greater good. We can't ourselves do much to help in the fight against That Virus. Neither of us are key workers or able to work away from home. So instead we are hoping to help through the sort of thing we can do: create books.
We moved very quickly that morning from idea to launch. I think it was 48 hours. In that time, we had fleshed out the initial idea, written the text, found some judges and then uploaded the competition and spread the news. We have a competition! It is our first. The first of many, we hope.
Now all we need to do is wait. I am hopeful. One thing history has proved to us as a nation, as a world, is that whenever people are plunged into a state of deep uncertainty and poverty (in terms of freedom of movement and availability of things) human beings turn to their imaginations. We do this to help us to rationlise events and also to take us away from them. We make up stories as a way of distraction. That is what I hope will happen now. I'm thinking of writing something myself (not a short story though, I can't enter the competition). So, please people, get writing! It is a wonderful therapy. Man is a natural born narrator. I firmly believe that the self requires story to guard against the entropy and chaos of life. We think in narratives, we are ‘Homo Fictus’.
We will find a way out of the labyrinth and if we tell each other stories along the way, all the better. If you do fancy entering, please do check the competition details.