Within and Without

J. Dianne Dotson – Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer - Within and Without

Well. Here we are. Not where any of us expected or wanted to be: in a calamity. All of us at once.

What do we do now?

We stay in. We stay safe. We turn within, and we do without. But it’s more than that.

I’m seeing a whole lot of messiness. I truly don’t understand those who prey upon others right now, or show bigotry and entitlement. We have to do better: we must.

In a way this crisis is like a great mirror as well as a great magnifier. So when you hold up that mirror to yourself, what do you see? And what do you want to see?

It seems like there is so much beyond our control right now. With life, work, and all our norms upended, we get up every day and do not know quite what to expect.

So what lies within us that we can control? It’s cheesy, but counting one’s blessings is a useful tool right now. If you want to you, you can get an actual pen and paper and write down what you’re grateful for right now.

What if we are doing without? If you have more than others, see how you can help them. Use your health, and safely assist. Check in on your friends and family. Even the “strong” ones. It may surprise you to know that the “strong” and “plucky” types might be really struggling right now in ways they can’t articulate, or feel too stubborn to.

There are many things we are doing without right now. Many will be temporary. But it’s okay to grieve their absence. I never thought I would miss just going to Trader Joe’s for groceries. Or driving down to the beach, which was a grand luxury, quite honestly. But we are holed up at home. I’m ordering groceries delivered, then putting them through various quarantine/cleaning regimes.

I’ve found that my past experience working in a barrier facility, or working in labs handling radioactive/mutagenic/hazardous materials, have all come in handy lately. My experience in public health has aided me in speaking with friends about this situation. And quite suddenly, as part of my “day job” I’m being approached more for my science writing. It’s all very strange.

Right now I really can’t write fiction. But I do have Book Three edits to incorporate from my editor. My cover artist is finishing up the cover for the book, and it’s looking gorgeous. I have to push forward with all those things, because I really do want to publish the book in late May.

I was worried about the darkness in Book Three though. I emailed my editor and asked if I should change anything. She suggested that I do not: that the way it ends will make people want to know what happens next. I guess I had better sit down and finish Book Four soon, in that case.

I won’t have a book launch party. I won’t be at conventions. That stuff is over for the foreseeable future, and I really don’t care. It’s not that important. It was a boon to my fiction-writing career, but it wasn’t necessary. One day I hope to be back out there in public. But for now I don’t miss it. I just hope I can keep writing fiction and getting things out in the world.

For now my paramount concern is the health and safety of my family and my friends. Everything else is secondary, tertiary, quaternary, or has just dropped off my radar altogether.

I’m finding that I can work with what I have within, and I can do without a lot of other stuff.

I wish each of you health and safety.


Image Credit: Photo of the sky over San Diego by J. Dianne Dotson Copyright 2020.

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