A Profound Look Back at the Week: March 30 – April 3

Another week has ended and my bread-making skills have improved further. I’m sure this is vital information for everyone on the planet, so I had to share it. Other than that, the only outtake of these past five days is that we are doing civilisation wrong.

Word of the week: crisis

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, crisis is defined as “A time of intense difficulty or danger”, which will hardly surprise anyone but it also has another definition: “The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.”

I find this definition quite interesting because, unlike the primary one, it contains a silver lining. It’s a thin one, granted, but it’s there and I think it’s worth noting it and remembering it, especially now, when ‘crisis’ appears to rhyme with ‘recession’ and ‘unemployment’.

If we stretch it a little further, death of one thing means birth of another because nature abhors empty space, so maybe, eventually, all will be well, although in a new way we know little about. Okay, it’s hard to be positive on this topic, so I’m dropping it. I tried. I lack the ability to make light of all those rhymes. Still, it could all end well after due suffering. The crisis is already good for the planet.

Survival mode

Over the past couple of weeks my brain has been nagging me with one message: “Make food”. There is no shortage of anything in the village shop, except that they’re out of yeast, which I hope is temporary. There is meat, there is bread, there are fruit and vegetables, and we have all the sorrel we can eat because our garden is full of it. And yet I’m restless.

Now, I’m the offspring of a father from the, what was it, the quiet generation? The silent generation? The pre-WWII people, basically. My mum was a baby boomer. They both grew up amid shortages, grave ones, at that. I was raised to never ever waste food, which is why every time I see people on TV shows throw away perfectly good food to make a point or just because riles me something awful. So, one reason I’m restless is definitely my family background. Another may be my tendency to expect the worst of everything, just to be prepared.

I spent my Saturday morning reading up on bean-growing and I also checked sales ads for goats. No, we’re not getting a goat yet but, like I said, I want to be prepared. I’m this close to researching chickens, just in case*. The beans are now planted and I’ve set aside the okra (which only I eat but if push comes to shove the two Cs will have no choice) and the beetroot for next month.

I’m learning a lot. I’m also considering potatoes. Life without potatoes is a life with a potato-shaped hole full of pain in it and they’re easy to grow, anyway. And just now I remembered the salad seed mix that I bought three years ago and that I shall promptly put in the ground.

Maybe I’ll make cucumber and cherry tomato seedlings, too, since we’re not going anywhere anytime soon and I’ve got the seeds. I may have been preparing for self-sufficiency for a while now, like those Cold War survivors that built bunkers in anticipation of the bomb. Part of them must have been disappointed it never dropped. People are weird.

Anyway, it’s interesting how easily the brain goes into survival mode, at least in my case. All it took was a state of emergency, although the tonnes of social network vomit about a creeping dictatorship and the media vomit about an economic apocalypse may have helped a teensy little bit, I’ll admit that.

I now have a somewhat deeper understanding of the people who hoarded toilet paper and bought more fridges to store all the stuff they panic-bought at the start of, if you’ll excuse the word, the crisis. Their problem is, the food will run out. My problem is, all I planted has yet to show signs of life so I hope we’ll continue to be shortage-free for a couple of more months at least.

Of course, the chances of a food apocalypse are slim, at least in this part of the world. Or so I hope. And yet self-sufficiency is an alluring idea. It is also the right idea from a survival point of view. The more you depend on others for your sustenance, the more vulnerable you are to, well, everything. I shall now drop this topic as I dropped the crisis one because it’s going into too serious a direction that would inevitably involve the state of many economies and I’m not here to be serious. Off to sow the salad seeds**.

Publishers in trouble

For now painfully obvious reasons the whole publishing supply chain has been shattered. This is certainly horrible for every link in that chain with one exception: new authors, authors such as myself. Do you know why? Well, I’ll tell you. Until now, we knew that we have a chance of about 1% to catch the eye of a major publisher or even an indie one and earn some writing success. Now, this chance has gone to 0.1%, which is a polite way to say virtually zero.

Still don’t understand how this is good news? It’s liberating, people! If I may quote (write this down somewhere, I will be quoting. From memory!) Janice Joplin, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. The crisis in the publishing industry is setting us free. Also broke, in way too many cases, but can we focus on the freedom? Thanks.

I’ve heard writing advice along the lines of know your audience and give them what they want and while I’ve never put much stock in this sort of advice I suspect a lot of authors do. No more. You can now write about absolutely everything you want since the only way your writing is going to make it to readers would be word of mouth. You can stop auto-censoring to please the audience. The audience will find you. Of course, we’ll all be writing for free or for donations but we all know being in it for the money is not the right reason to be in it.

And here’s the even better news: I may be wrong and in just a couple of years the publishing world could be back stronger than ever, hungry for new authors. Who knows? No one anticipated this pandemic, not really, did they? There. Anything is possible.

*No chickens because, and I quote, they are too much trouble. I can’t argue. I’ve never kept chickens.

** This has been delayed because of a superannoying rain. Ditto potatoes. But I made a yeast starter. With beer. You know, just in case.

*** What’s with the Danish pastry? It’s Danish. From Denmark. I like Danish pastry. From Denmark.

4 thoughts on “A Profound Look Back at the Week: March 30 – April 3”

  1. 0.1% sounds about right. I think it was like that before the plague. This will probably just drive the publishing industry to go further into digital, meaning less print books and bookstores. Hopefully indies, like my publisher, who have been trying to innovate in the digital space, will have a better chance now. That being said, I’m all for writing what you want to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liberating, yes… Than ks for this.
    Instead of those soul crushing, miserable formulaic responses, ‘not suitable for our lists’ – freedom to write as we want to, dare to write, think and say everything publishers might have blue penned. .
    The great story you had to stop everything, fired by that ‘ do it now , you’ve no time to lose’ message – the one I had from The Spy. –
    Now, for the working day, no broadband or phone for me. WFH, key worker, not me, needs to get the headset on… while I edit a new book -p more boldly than would have dared.
    No more writing for the market. It’s closed. Painters paint. Nobody ever called that vanity painting.

    Liked by 1 person

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