Dear Mungrisdale friends
I hope you are keeping well and safe. I have been thinking of you all a great deal in recent weeks, and really missing your inspirational writing and our happy times at Mungrisdale. I am hopefully very much recovered after my operation and this week is Week 8 of that recovery, when I would normally be back with you all! So I thought that, if you are slacking in a world weary sort of way, ‘in the bliss of solitude’, lying on your couch (as in couch potato?) or raring to go, I would give you a little exercise to stir the old brain cells into action.You may have this email twice as I will ask Trevor to pass it on if he would be so kind, just in case I miss anyone off the list.
During the last war, housewives particularly were asked to write a diary of daily experiences. Some of these accounts became famous after the war and really reflected the privations of a nation under extreme stress. There was also humour, pathos and tragedy in those intimate reflections. We have become so used, very quickly, to the strange country of pandemic – social distancing, PPE, battling for slots at 11 o’clock at night with supermarkets, hand washing, Lockdown, to name but a few. As writers, it seems to me important to record these extraordinary times, even if it is a while before we want to revisit them when it is all over. There are unique challenges of isolation, the inability to see family and friends, or even to talk to neighbours. I would really like you to begin to record these times through poetry or prose.
For myself, I have found, having been in isolation with my husband for at least a month, and probably before that because we were in isolation since the beginning of January, waiting for my operation, I long to go to the beach, I am afraid to think about going to shops again, worry about running out of essentials, but at the same time by myself much enriched by silence and quiet time and stillness. The pleasure of a daily walk is intensified.
I will try to give you a short exercise occasionally, while we are all in isolation, which you are very welcome to do. You can send them to me directly. I cannot promise to answer or comment on each one immediately, but I will do my best. I would also like you to keep them in a file for when we come together again and we can tell each other how we have fared.
This time I would like you to write either a piece of flash fiction, strictly no more than 100 words, a short poem, or a piece of descriptive prose, and again no more than 100 words, on the subject of Lockdown. You can, as usual, take it in any direction you wish. Please please please put your name at the bottom of the piece and send it as a Word Document. It can be as personal as you like, and you can also tell me whether you would prefer that I do not share it. If Trevor, our esteemed secretary is willing, we can share some of them with you all.
Most importantly, I would also like to know from everybody whether you have managed to master Zoom, as I am planning to try to host a very short meeting – about 15 minutes, sometime soon as an experiment
In the meantime, my thoughts are with all of you, and my fervent wishes that you keep safe and well.
Warmest good wishes