The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:
What has nine months of pandemic living brought forward in your life that you are grateful for?
Eleanor wrote about an unexpected change in attitude that resulted from the pandemic. Enjoy her winning submission:
“Am I a real writer?” I ask the universe quite often. “Or a charlatan?”
March 23: Lockdown One starts in the UK. I note it in my writing journal and panic. It’s only a theoretical panic. I lost my writing focus before I ever heard the word virus, but now I feel unreasonably constrained by an outside force. After all, I might want to travel farther than Tesco [a supermarket] for inspiration.
But a cunning plan formulates itself. I will pretend I covet all these hours of isolation to reset my schedule. And with this ingenious thinking, I’m instantly transformed from resentful to grateful. “I choose ‘pandemic living mode,’” I announce to the universe.
My change of attitude causes the universe to respond in kind. A network of gossamer threads comes together, and writing opportunities and energy return.
I take out my unfinished novel that I stuffed away in despair — probably during the Battle of Hastings — and simply complete the outstanding chapters. Just like that. I’m full of gratitude.
By May Day, I know that if writing were any more addictive, it would need regulation. I’m unstoppable.
Next up are the summer months of semi-lockdown measures. Who cares? I happily spend them compiling my iLearn workbook aimed at homeschoolers. Another frisson of gratitude. My focus on writing has returned. My cup is chock-full of sentences, phrases, and heavenly, magical words. Thank you, lockdown. Thank you, universe.
Then Lockdown Two peeks over the turrets of House Patrick.
I remind myself that gratitude is not a platitude to toy with, but a life of commitment to the challenge — though it has a learning curve to make the North Face of the Eiger look like a nursery slope.
But something is still itching away at me, like a pesky mosquito defying the word-processing balm I’ve been slathering on.
Finally, as UK Lockdown Two arrives on Bonfire Night, the answer flares to life like a Roman candle in a dark garden. Got it! I’d planned to finish a copywriting course last winter and add it to my armoury. It’s languishing on the study shelf. I now have the hours to do it, and nothing will stop me.
I waft the universe another “thank you, thank you, thank you” and grab the course materials.
December 2: Lockdown Two ends. I am now once more — definitely — a real writer.