I’m excited to be a contributor in a new anthology which provides a unique record of life in my Galloway, my own wee part of Scotland, during the first 12 weeks of lockdown.
Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid brings together the work of 22 writers, each with a Galloway connection. It is a collection of prose and poetry, hopefulness, hopelessness, anger, humour and quiet endurance in which the writers tell the story of a community dealing with life in unprecedented times.
The idea behind the project came from author Margaret Elphinstone, when her writing classes could no longer meet. Inspired by the Mass Observation project which encouraged ordinary people to keep wartime diaries, she invited anyone interested to contribute – 22 of us did.
Margaret said: “In times of trouble people want to be together but with lockdown people had to isolate, sometimes living alone. Writing met their need to communicate. Through our writing we entertained and supported each other, sharing fears and unexpected joys and daring to hope for a better future.
“None of our writers was on the ‘front line’ and most were aware life in Galloway was better than in many places. But there was mounting anxiety for absent friends and family, and for what would happen to our communities.”
Now, with the book in my hands, looking back to my early contributions, I’m astonished at how hopeful I felt. Not only would this lockdown bring the virus under control, stopping the cases – and the deaths – from rising – it would surely lead to a fundamental shift in how politicians worldwide treated the environment. There was a feeling of all of us pulling together, accepting the restrictions for the good of everyone. Dominic Cummings put paid to that, didn’t he?
At the beginning of lockdown, I thought I would use this huge bonus of ‘me’ time to tackle my own outstanding writing projects – starting tomorrow. Always starting tomorrow! I am so pleased I signed up to take part in Writedown because it was almost the only writing I did do over those 12 weeks.
The writers never – and still haven’t – met as a group. They come from diverse backgrounds and many were strangers to each other at the start of the project, but they shared their writing week-by-week and bonds and friendships were forged. It was to the group I turned late one night when an Afghan friend messaged me about a brutal terrorist attack on the Kabul maternity hospital in which her sister worked.
Even the editorial team met on Zoom, both as a group and in pairs as we worked on our allotted chapters. It was an interesting experience as we discovered each other’s pet hates and particular foibles. I hate the word ‘that’, others don’t mind, some even really like it. Some love commas, others don’t. Exclamation works made some shudder while others didn’t notice them. Everyone, however, was working towards the collective aim of making the book as good as it could be.
The paperback edition came out first and is available locally in many outlets. Readers from further afield will be pleased to know the ebook is now available on Amazon. Here is the universal link for anyone outside the UK : http://smarturl.it/writedown
Writedown is available for members of Rosie Amber’s fabulous review team. If you are a reader who would be interested in becoming part of Rosie’s team and sharing your reviews, all the details are here.
And here is the flyer for the paperback (I think UK sales only) if you would like the paperback:
I’ll finish with thoughts from some of the other contributors to Writedown. Cath Monk remembers how positive we all felt in the beginning, something which changed over the weeks. “All the sad stories started coming out. It’s not easy to stay upbeat. We were all missing the contacts and the hugs. At least we knew, ‘it’s not just me.'”
Leonie Ewing said: “We were united by the project – it gave us focus. We brought different life experiences and points of view. It gave us a finger on the pulse of Galloway as the pandemic took hold so we could encourage each other and uplifted.”