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Now

In isolation, my wife and I sit in our 630 square foot house—two rooms—in Denver, Colorado. She is recovering from surgery—very nicely thank you—and I am, as always, writing a book. The novel is a work of historical fiction and it has absolutely nothing to do with what is happening in the world, and what is happening to the world—you have noticed—is that it’s going to hell, quickly.

Denver
Denver skyline, Darryl Brooks, 123rf.com

It’s hard to think about what I am doing. It’s my work, of course, and since I’ve been doing it for so long the process is truly habitual, though as always, each book, this book, has its own problems, its challenges.

But the news—the horror of the pandemic—keeps pounding on the door. I think of the people who can’t get any help, the poor, the homeless, and the already ill. The people who can’t get tests. Or buy food. I think of those who have lost jobs and have no idea where the next paycheck will come from—if it ever does come. I think of the ignorance, which amounts to the cruelty of our national government, and of powerful people. I think of those who are alone and frightened. Who are discriminated against. The people who have no legal standing and can’t get any help. I think of my daughter, a doctor, working in NYC, and wondering what will happen to her, and her infant daughter, and her husband. And as I wander the empty streets—trying for a little exercise—I wonder what are people doing? Are they reading? Playing games? Watching TV? Doing nothing?

To be writing at such a time seems a kind of self-indulgence, except I try to remind myself it’s not. It’s what I’ve done for most of my life, and while I live—as I intend to—I’ll do it. In one sense, it’s a way of reminding myself that I am living as I want to. I’m lucky there. I can. Most of all, as I work on this page and that page, I’m thinking about my readers. Will they understand? Is this exciting enough to pull them along? Will they keep turning the pages? Is it interesting? Will they laugh? Or cry?

Today I made a decision about the plot that took me by surprise. That pleased me because as I’ve referenced many times, it’s all about something Robert Frost said. “No surprises for the writer, no surprises for the reader.” Oh, I’m thinking, that surprise will surely catch the reader. 

You see, there are all these readers around my head, too. As always, they are invisible. But maybe, just maybe, it’s they who are pounding on the door.  I like to think so. And so I continue to write. Not isolated. There are readers—waiting. I’m trying catch up with them. I’m not waiting for the waiting to be over.

12 thoughts on “Now”

  1. Thanks for this, Avi. I so thoroughly understand the distraction of the ever-changing situation right now. When I can pull myself away and really focus on my work I find myself much calmer.

    Usually working in isolation is seen as one of the sacrifices we make to write. In these strange times being able to do so is an odd kind of blessing.

  2. So powerful. Avi, you are not being self-indulgent at all. You – the writers in our world – have created the characters and landscapes that give us – the readers – the ability to journey when we cannot physically leave our homes. And when we come back, those heroes have modeled for us the strength we need to rise to our own challenges. The books you are writing now are a testament to your belief that there will be a future in which we will read those books. And your belief in the future (even if we’re headed there in a handbasket!) gives us a hope for the future as well.

    I think the cruel ignorance of those in power that you mention is balanced by the overwhelming kindness of the average person that is also coming to the fore. People looking out for each other and sharing what they have (my neighbor gave me 8 rolls of TP!). Neil Gaiman has given blanket permission for anyone to record and share his works. There is hope.

    PS. What era is your current book??? I can’t wait!!!

  3. Avi thank you for this. I have shared with some other writers. I am so glad to know you are there and writing and I just love what you said about the readers. They will be thankful that you are still writing. I am one of them.

  4. Good morning Avi, Best wishes to you and LInda as she recovers. I had hoped to see you at the Tucson Book Festival; I am still grieving that cancellation as we live in Mesa, AZ. Keep writing. That is a such a solace to all of your readers.

  5. Avi, thanks so much for your introspective and worldly post about our current state of affairs in our country and day to day life in general. I wish you and your family safe harbor and excellent health. All of you stay well. We always worry about family, no matter what age or life situations. Please keep working your magic by doing what comes naturally, writing life-changing masterpieces for children, young adults, and adults.

    Sharon O. Blumberg

  6. Thank you for sharing! Like other said, it is not self indulgent to be writing. Each of us need ways to effectively cope with our situation since many aspects of it we cannot control. What we can do is control our individual responses to it And that is exactly what you are doing. In addition to helping yourself, you are helping those who are to be your readers of the novel you are writing. It may be the novel that hooks a kid to read more, to hook a kid to read more of Avi’s wonderful story telling and inspire a kid to become someone who enjoys literacy for life.

    Best wishes to you and your family. I look forward to learning more of your journey in the months ahead.
    -Sandy

  7. Keep calm and write on! I believe in the power of words to heal, entertain, and gain better understanding…all are needed and appreciated in today’s world. I believe in YOU! Big hugs to you, Linda, and your far-flung family. Holding steady on the left coast until we meet again.

  8. Dear Avi,

    I know this time in life for all of us around the world is very difficult and scary. I am a nine year old boy across the Atlantic in the UK and feel worried about the virus and people around the world dying. My birthday is in a couple of weeks and I am sad that I will turn ten and not celebrate with friends, but I am thankful that me and my family are healthy. Its a tough time for everyone but one thing that makes it much easier for me is staying at home and reading your books safely in my bed. I have read the Edward and Avon series over and over again and I cant tell you how much I love them. They are my favorite books of all time and they make me so happy when I read them.

    The only thing I think we can do these days is control how we react to the pandemic and your books make me feel comforted and connected. I just wanted to say thank you for your writing and I hope that maybe you can write a third book in the Edward and Avon series. Perhaps the new book title could be A Muddled Beginning!

    Like you say in the book “It all depends on you. If you want it to be different,it will be different. Don’t look at the world with your eyes but with your heart.”
    ― Avi, The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail
    We are all suffering together around the world because of corona virus and our hearts are now luckily united. We are all blessed for everyday we have together on earth. Your words ring true even in this unfortunate context.

    “It seems to me that you won’t have had a proper series of adventures, unless you’ve gone through thick and thin.”
    ― Avi, The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail

    Thank you so much for continuing to write, you are my favorite author and I am so lucky I found your books.

    Wishing you well,

    Adam

    • Dear Adam: That’s one of the nicest letters I have ever received. And so well written. I wish you and your family well. Happy 10th birthday to you and thanks for reading my books

      • Thank you for responding to my letter Avi. Your message is the best birthday gift I could ever get!

  9. Do I have permission to finish reading Poppy online to my class? Or can I get permission somehow, please? They were loving the story before we had to stay at home.

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