By Andrea Karen Hammer
One positive outcome of the last 9 months was the decision to launch Artsphoria Publishing. This new division is producing reality-inspired arts and business books and screenplays from a multicultural perspective.
With my debut novel nearing the end of gestation, concentrated time on this creative project has provided a refuge and time to reflect on the troubling issues of this last year. As a personal salvation and way to transform the daily negative events in the news, this in-depth work has produced several important writing lessons. Many of these discoveries have also resulted in parallel tips for withstanding the chaos of the pandemic and election:
- Patience: As a freelancer with an article-writing career, the long-form process of creating a novel required a shift in thinking and practice. Instead of looking for the immediate gratification of completing shorter pieces, the slower development of writing a book–while simultaneously waiting for control of COVID 19–both necessitated a long-distance view.
- Discipline: Early training as a deadline-driven freelancer was tested with alarming news distractions, which frequently impacted the creative process. While allowing some flexibility in my initial 10-page-a-day quota, a daily regimen of exercise contributed to overall writing productivity and the ability to maintain good health while following pandemic guidelines.
- Imagination: Like all creative work, writing a novel allowed my imagination to roam freely while researching and exploring many fascinating destinations across the world. Despite physical restrictions required during the pandemic, the ability to “travel” this way defied any externally imposed limitations.
- Drama: One welcome discovery about novel writing is the useful place to channel dramatic incidents and reactions. As characters and scenes came to life, this outlet provided a productive way to redirect thoughts about some of the real-life events of the last year.
- Healing: As a writer who has also published personal essays and opinion pieces, I’ve learned that writing a novel offers additional space for addressing troubling subjects. During a time of collective suffering like the one we have experienced during the pandemic, creative work can provide a way to process these issues, which allows healing to begin.
- Pacing: Good writing often rises from musical rhythm–springing from the right tension and flow of unfolding scenes. Like all longer-form stories, the pandemic and election have also required proper pacing to complete a marathon versus a sprint.
- Revision: After re-reading the first chapter of my book, I decided to do a major revision. Although this re-working process presented challenges–like changes that have occurred in our understanding of best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19–the adjustments resulted in key revelations for the overall outcome.
- Scope: Writing a book involves keeping your eye on the big picture. Although a novel can originate from your personal story, the larger question–relevant for the current health and political struggle–is: How do these issues impact others?
- Priorities: Writing a book during the pandemic has provided the opportunity to focus on pressing goals. With heightened awareness of time, the importance of achieving a lifelong dream is now.
- Flexibility: After recently discovering that another book was just released with part of my working title, I need to dream up a new one. Similarly, the ability to make adjustments and adapt until COVID-19 is under control will allow us to bridge the remaining time until vaccines are widely available.
Launching Artsphoria Publishing and writing a debut novel have allowed me to address the issue of coping with profound loss that shakes the very foundation of our lives. To contribute to the production of this novel, its sequel and upcoming arts and business books and screenplays from a multicultural perspective, see https://ifundwomen.com/projects/artsphoria-inclusive-collaborative-publishing