In 1722 Daniel Defoe published his novel, A Journal of the Plague Year, a fictional chronicle of one man’s experiences during the bubonic plague that swept London in 1665-66.
With the spread of Covid-19, people in much of the world are facing a time of great uncertainty. There have already been profound and painful losses of many kinds. Regardless of how quickly the virus is brought under control, it seems clear that life as we know it will change. With that change will come opportunities to reflect, and reimagine how we live and relate to one another.
As a novelist, non-fiction author and blogger, I have always used writing to process my experiences and ideas. As a result, it seems natural, as the pace of life slows and more of us are confined to our homes, to use words to explore the shifts that this period will bring. And so, shamelessly stealing Defoe’s title, that’s what I propose to do here.
I’m not a scientist or a sociologist. Even if I had access to all the data, I would be unqualified to pronounce on the wisdom of government policy, so I won’t be doing that.*
I also don’t plan to disseminate resources or share advice on how people can make good use of their time at home, there being thousands of others who have much better ideas than me about this. (Personally, I’ll be doing a lot of reading, but if you’re more interested in that, you’re better off looking here.)
Instead, I’ll be recording my experiences and thoughts in the weeks ahead. I’ll be trying to notice my reactions to the changes and challenges that lie ahead, and see what, if anything, I can learn from them about the way we humans tick.
I’m prepared that this may turn out to be little more than an open diary – a place where I chronicle my reflections for no-one other than my future self to read. But if you’d like to follow, leave comments or get in touch to share your experiences, I’d be pleased to have your company.
Stay well and hopeful.
*That said, to live through and record events like this is an inherently political exercise, so it’s inevitable that my views on certain things will seep through here and there. (Updated 14 May 2020)