News in the time of COVID-19

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… except there is none that really matters, as we all find ourselves dealing with the new reality of a world dominated by Covid-19.

It seems wrong, almost, to mind about ‘writing’ affairs – all those things that would have been my ‘news’, had life been carrying on as normal. All those events that were due to take place, but have been cancelled – Abergavenny Writing Festival, where I was going to be one of a writers’ panel; Lampeter Book Fair, with a table booked for sales, together with a reading; the Northern Short Story Festival, my first time of leading a workshop/discussion. And, of course, most of all, the publication of my short story collection, now postponed until… who knows when?

What do any of these things count for, when so many people are dying, or having their lives filled with grief, because of the virus?

Yet all writers will know that their art/craft is not simply about putting words down on paper or typing them into a computer. Those words make stories, which remain vitally important in these troubled times – perhaps more important than ever, as we struggle to make sense of things. And, also, on a more personal level, our work is bound up in our dreams.

So it still has the capability to provide us with ‘small joys and consolations’, to quote a friend of mine.

One of these is the latest issue of ‘Confluence’ magazine, which includes my story ‘Water, Earth, Stone.’ It’s a story I was very pleased with, and seeing it in print is a welcome reminder that I have, in the past, at least, been able to string a few words together to make a decent tale.

The story is set in a garden, and one of my biggest consolations at the moment, which has nothing to do with writing, is gardening.

A comfort, a reason to feel lucky, compared with so many others. And a reason for hope, because one of the many things a garden teaches is renewal.