I hope that you all got the memo that I have officially started writing the first novel in the Vanessa VanDuyn series, The Grass is Always Greener!!! *YAY* I still have a lot of details to work through, but one day last week, it felt like a writing day, so I went with it. 800 some odd words later, I am happy and excited, but I keep coming back to this nagging thought...
I cannot set this book in the present...
I cannot set it in the future either, come to think of it...
My preference would be to write in the now. It makes sense to me; my readers are my peers. We follow the same current events, have access to the same technology and are entertained by the same pop culture. But as I hovered over the keyboard, ready to commit to the time and place in my novel, I stumbled. I had always pictured it set... here... and now. But then Covid happened. What the hell? I had no plans for Covid-19 in this novel. No one planned for Covid.
To include it now would be difficult. Rewriting the outline would be a disappointing and time consuming task, many of the conflicts would be neutered... How can I create drama when my three main characters are social distancing??? Ok, I definitely could. My NextDoor feed is blistering with neighbors bent out of shape over any little thing and they're all social distancing. But sorry Covid, this book is not for you.
On the other hand, it is far too prevalent to exclude from any narrative that would take place in the present. To say it was April 2020 in Vanessa VanDuyn's world, but not have her stumbling through quarantine and social distancing, compulsive hand washing, mask wearing and toilet paper shortages, would be the crack in my suspension of disbelief. It would completely disconnect the reader from the story. It's just not plausible.
Neither can I set her adventures into the future, at a time when that landscape is totally malleable. Nothing is for certain, no assumptions about the economy, politics, or society can be made. To write into the future would be science fiction.
My only option, I felt was to set The Grass is Always Greener one year in the past. Eventually Vanessa's story will catch up to this bizarre reality we are all experiencing. But that will be a book or two down the road. I need some time to process how Covid-19 will alter the trajectory of my twenty book series. When Vanessa meets up with us in April 2020, hopefully we will be able to laugh at some of this surreality, even in light of the abject tragedy that we are experiencing globally.
Humans, as a bunch are resilient, and there will be a time and a place to insert some levity, but please forgive me for heading back to 2019 for The Grass is Always Greener.
The title is even more apropos, now. As I write, I'll reminisce of a time when the shit wasn't hitting the fan at diarrhetic speeds. But, I'll save the toilet paper shortage jokes for book two, Pair of Queens, alternate title: Royal Flush.