I’ve got eleven days to write, edit, polish and submit a short story to a very prestigious short story competition, the Manchester Fiction Prize. Well, I’ve got something written, but I’m not sure it can actually be called a short story – it’s currently a jumble of words with the Covid pandemic as its central theme.
Even theme is pushing it.
I’ve basically written a diary entry.
At the beginning of all this, authors had a bit of a meeting and decided not to write about the virus. No one, it was agreed, wants to read about something so awful while we’re living through it. Of course, there are authors out there (because there are quite a lot of us) who were writing their pandemic novels before any of this happened. Some have stopped writing, others have continued in the hope their stories will be more epic and dramatic than our current situation.
And I imagine they will be. After all the apocalyptic, deadly virus films and novels you’ve read, did you ever imagine we’d just move our offices into our homes and complain we couldn’t find enough flour to make cake? Did you think you’d take up jogging and cycling (which is much more an avoid the zombies situation anyway)?
Personally, I don’t write about large global events. I focus on small, almost insignificant moments that affect the lives of individuals. And yet, here I am, with this thing stuck in my head that I can’t exorcise without writing it all down in 2204 unedited words. And, you know what, I’ve even asked someone to read it as if this were an actual short story I’m planning to… I don’t know… submit to an international short story competition!