On the whole I was not super-productive during lockdown. I was highly stressed and anxious and my concentration during those long bouts of not being allowed to see people, was dire. However, I’ve been self employed for most of my adult life, so I already know how to work from home and how to manage myself without any external input. Things like getting dressed and remembering to move about weren’t so hard for me, so in some ways I had a better time of it than many.
During the first lockdown, I accidentally wrote a book. I didn’t set out to write a book, not least because I never imagined we’d be locked down for so long. But, I wanted something to focus on and to share with friends, and so the Wherefore project was born. In the first few months of UK lockdown I recorded three episodes a week for youtube – with support and input from friends who both offered ideas and responded to what I’d put out.
As lockdown eased, I kept going, dropping from three episodes a week to one or two. By the summer there was a book’s worth of material, but I hadn’t run out of ideas. Which was as well as we went into winter lockdown and I needed to distract myself.
As a result I now have three books worth of material – silly and speculative fiction set around the Stroud area. I’ve just finished the third series. I may well do more episodes here and there but I’m not going to continue doing them regularly as there’s just too much else I need to be working on.
You can find all 3 series on youtube, and I’ve got pdf versions of series one and two – the third pdf will be along as soon as I can get it sorted.
Wherefore was my lockdown sanity project in 2020. With prompts and supports from a number of good friends, I set out to write a barmy soap opera. Wherefore is set around the valleys of Stroud, and in it the area is populated with wizards and shapeshifters, as well as the performance artists and bemused poets it would be reasonable to expect.
There’s a mix of whimsy and seriousness. There’s a great deal of animism in the mix. Mostly my aim with this work is to amuse and comfort people. I am still somewhat surprised to find I can write about a novel’s worth of material in about six months as well as doing other things. I was incredibly prolific in my twenties, but I’ve slowed down a lot since then.
I’ve been doing this as youtube episodes – they average at about 7 minutes a shot, on the basis that many of us had no concentration to speak of last year. At the end of each series, the text gets polished up and released as a pdf – these are free, on the grounds that the videos are also free.
I thought it might be interesting to outline what I’m doing with my time at the moment…
I’ve got into a lovely routine where there’s often an hour between my getting up and my starting work. I use that time to think, drink coffee, sometimes I do some exercise. I approach the day slowly, rather than getting up and starting work, which used to be the way of it.
For the first hour or two, I write blogs – for this site and https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/ I also do assorted social media work. Up until February of this year, much of my day job was running Twitter accounts, but I’ve cut right back on that to make more space for other things.
At the moment I’m switching gear in the morning and becoming a colourist for an hour or two – I’m mostly working on the next graphic novel in the Hopeless Maine series. I work in pencils on paper, my husband does all the drawing which is all very old fashioned, but I like how much more texture and character you get that way.
On Wednesday mornings I sort out my Patreon content for the week, although I may have created the content on the previous day. Currently on Patreon there’s usually a poem each month, a section from a novel serialisation, a seasonal song and a Druid book in progress. https://www.patreon.com/NimueB
On Wednesday afternoons I’m working on a new Hopeless Maine project. At other times I’m also chipping away at world building for a new project and you can find that in the creative section of this blog.
Other, less regular things go into whatever spare time there is during the afternoons. That can mean magazine articles, reading review books, learning material, developing content for talks, doing things to help and support friends – like reading early drafts of their novels…
It’s full on that the moment, I have to concentrate hard for extended periods. Happily, my natural concentration span is about an hour, and if I take breaks to move around, I can make that work.
This also represents quite a gentle pace compared to the kinds of workloads I’ve had at some points in the past. There was one autumn when I was working 7 different part time jobs… At this point my life is a bit more coherent and not as difficult to organise as it has been. And still, I’m having to be deliberate at cutting myself slack for how long I can do some of these things for. I am uncomfortably aware that I expect to be able to work like a machine. I know creative work isn’t simply about the ability to crank it out. I know I need rest time, thinking time, research time and inspiration to create well, but I still struggle with the way capitalism has colonized my head.
This is fairly silly, speculative fiction. it does have some serious themes around extinction, climate crisis, and re-enchantment, but i figure it makes more sense to tackle the hard stuff by making people giggle. It’s a collective project and I am especially indebted to Mr Bob Fry (later to become Professor Bob Fry in series 2) and Robin Treefellow Collins, for ideas and contributions.
Wherefore series 1 now exists as a pdf and you can pick it up for free in my Ko-Fi store. Or you can pay, if you like. I believe in gift economy, I like giving things away and I don’t want ability to pay to ever be a barrier for anyone. So, the youtube version is there to be enjoyed, the pdf version is equally free. If you’re in a good place economically and want to pass something back, that’s lovely, and thank you.
Wherefore is a fictional series I’ve been doing over on youtube, aided and abetted by Bob Fry, and others. Mostly Bob though.
Wherefore is set in the Stroud Five (or possibly six) Valleys, and is silly, supernatural and has helped me stay sane during lockdown. As of now, we are gently extending the project by including photos of the setting. These are photos taken by Bob Fry, who has a rare talent for atmosphere to say the least and has somehow managed to make Bank Gardens look the way I write it rather than the way it usually is!
Episodes are 5-10 minutes in length. It’s a bit like a soap opera although there are some underlying plot arcs, sort of. There’s a fair amount of magic and animism.
Here’s episode 1 –
Most of the reason for designating the first 50 episodes as series 1, is administrative – I think it’ll be easier to share around if I do it in chunks. I’m also considering doing a paper version because audio doesn’t work for everyone, and because I like paper. I’ll have to do a bit of an edit for that because it was written to be spoken and there’s things I’ve relied on my voice to carry that won’t come through with text alone.
There will be a series 2, and I’ll crack on with that shortly.
Wherefore is a new project I have under way. It’s contemporary set, speculative fiction and I’m posting it as youtube videos – aiming for three times a week. The videos are about ten minutes a piece – because lots of people have very poor concentration right now. The story is being approached in a soap opera style so I don’t have to worry about the overall shape or structure of it too much. Let’s see what I learned in my years of listening to The Archers! This will be paranormal Archers with more romance, polyamoury, queer characters, and complicated relationships. I’m aiming for suitable for over 12s as a broad indicator – it’s not especially sweary and when anyone shags they won’t do so in graphic detail! There’s not going to be much violence, if any.
I think there’s some comfort to be had in faces and voices, which is why I’m doing it this way. BUT if you can’t do audio and want to have some daft speculative fiction in your life, just comment and I’ll send it to you by email as I go along.
Here’s episode 1
And episode 2
Like most creative people, we’re seeing a drop in household income right now. There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the publishing industry – which is where most of our work has come from. If you’d like to help fund us I have a ko-fi page – Ko-fi.com/O4O3AI4T
Not all self employed people can re-purpose for an online economy, so please watch out for friends who are in difficulty right now. Beauty industry folk, taxi drivers, gig economy workers, people who worked events but not as performers and many others… Please look after whoever you can.