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A New Short Series about the Pandemic, for the Next 30 Days

A few months ago, I pressed pause on writing and publishing daily.

If you’re receiving this on email, thank you for signing up to receive short daily emails from me, and apologies for my absence these past few months.

I had started the practice of daily blogging a couple of times over the previous couple of years, but always it was open-ended and the motivation — both for me in the writing, and I suspect for others (you!) in the reading — became a little foggy.

On reflection over these past few months, a few conclusions have presented themselves.

  • Writing every day helps me think clearer
  • Writing every day contributes to my positive mental health
  • Writing every day is like a 100-metre sprint: there’s a clear start line and finish line, and when that line is crossed it brings a feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small

So I know for sure that, for me, writing every day is a good thing.

But I realised too that publishing something new every day is not a good thing for me as a writer. It’s impossible to keep that feeling out of the words I write. What I feel when I write, you are likely to feel when you read. There’s some strange alchemy at play that’s hard to explain.

And the pressure of publishing every day inevitable infected the writing. For me, writing needs a little space.

So I still try to write every day, but I’ve given up trying to publish every day. (What the likes of Seth Godin and Tyler Cowen can do is phenomenal, but I’m not Seth or Tyler or anyone else…)

I do, however, like the idea of a series of short, limited, daily runs. Last December, I wrote (only on email) a short piece for each day of the final month of the strangest year of all of our lives.

Today is the start of a new 30-day daily run.

Thirty pieces, delivered each morning, as a response to, and exploration of, the pandemic and the world around the pandemic, one year on.

On March 12th, 2020, the World Health Organisation announced what many had expected for a few weeks: that the coronavirus epidemic was officially now a pandemic, defined as “occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”.

On that same Thursday, the Irish Taoiseach announced that all schools, colleges and childcare facilities would close (initially, for about two weeks). The following day, the United States called a national emergency and implemented a European travel ban. The UK would take a little longer to lock down, but it locked down hard before the end of March.

A year on, a lot has happened.

For the next 30 days, this short series will include an assortment of personal responses to the all changed Covid-19 world.

Almost three million people have died after a positive Covid-19 test. Death is never easy at the best of times, but so many have had to mourn the loss of loved ones over the past 12 months without even getting the chance to say a proper farewell.

Even for those of us who have somehow avoided that experience, it’s been greatly challenging, as the fabric of everything we knew to be normal was torn up and scattered to the wind.

I’m conflicted. I’ve been conflicted from the very start.

I’ve found myself at times in denial, and at times scrolling through the endless news reports consumed with fear.

At times I’ve been complacent, and at others I’ve been distrustful of the people and the institutions making decisions that affect us all.

I don’t exactly know where this series will go, or what shape it will take. It will aim to reflect on the past only so that it can help inform the present and look to the future, but beyond that I don’t know.

I hope you take something of value from these 30 short pieces.

I look forward to sharing Day 1 with you tomorrow.

Finally, some quick housekeeping.

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Shane