Much has been written about how to manage the limits placed on our lives due to the pandemic. Physical fitness, workplace issues, and the stress of isolation from family and friends are three topics at the top of the list. But what happens with the creativity of writers and artists during such a time?
The story of Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, deserves reflection here. At age 18, she and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley visited Lord Byron at his home near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The year was 1816 and the region was trapped in a “mini-ice age” due to atmospheric changes from the eruption of the volcano of Mount Tambora.
To pass the time during their confinement, Lord Byron proposed they each write an original story. The details of how this legendary story grew from the mind of young Mary Shelley are fascinating but beyond this writing. Rumors of what other activities Lord Byron suggested for passing the time will also not be repeated here.
The story Frankenstein was not the only remarkable act of creativity by the group during that “volcanic winter.” Lord Byron wrote a fragment of a story about vampires that others evolved to the modern version of the “romantic” vampire. (Polidori, The Vampyre: 1819.)
Back to the present. I must admit I have been “slowed” from the lack of bumping around in the world to see people and things. I spend a lot of time just sitting and thinking, and way too much time watching politics on television.
But I have hope. I’m becoming more skillful in using technology to connect to people. I’m reading more. And in the middle of all this, an idea for a new book has bubbled up to the conscious region of my brain. Too early to talk about, but like doctor Frankenstein’s creation, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.