What Literature Students Must Do During a Lockdown
It's May. It's still cold. It's wet. And your [name of your pet dog] isn't around. You don't want to hear "Walking on Sunshine", which your course mate was humming last winter. It doesn't fit your mood. Welcome to the new normal! This is one positive to be good about. However, it remains to be seen if you could become a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist someday. The coursework is what matters most, and some writers would see the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity. If the quarantine would make them more creative, then so can Literature students like you.
You were aware that the life of a writer would be absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman (or any 9-to-5 job). It didn't take a couple of months to figure out that a writer has to force himself (or herself) to work. A writer has also to make his (or her) own hours. A fiction writer often lived in a world of fear, which you could relate (at the moment). Roald Dahl would attest that two hours of writing would leave him drained, but he wasn't worried about running out of ideas. (He chose the jungles and lions and elephants and tall coconut plants swaying on silvery beaches. Sandy Egypt didn't appeal to him.) The quarantine would make you think too much, even imagine as well. You ever wondered about the beach that you visited last summer if it would glisten during a moonless evening. Your (best) dorm mate pretended not to hear it (when you first said it), as he wasn't a huge fan of Peter Benchley. "Jaws" may not be the first paperback that comes to your mind (when you recall the sea), but it would be a good distraction while writing an essay on "Under the Volcano". The latest news didn't provide you a new insight on Mexico, the setting of that novel, and you haven't composed a new paragraph during the last few hours. Perhaps you need to connect emotionally. This is the time of anxiety and uncertainty, and emotions are key to learning. Literature students would know better.
What has been the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on you? It would be a stretch to compare your experience to the anxiety that some soldiers felt after the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, but you missed going out. And you're not the only one. The likes of Dahl didn't seek an antidote to wanderlust. (If he did find a cure, then his legion of fans wouldn't know his scary encounter with a black mamba. And some snakes do have a definite preference on which creatures they like to hang out with.) You don't want coronaphobia to turn into agoraphobia. You're not the only one, but you must make the most of the current situation. What to do during a lockdown?
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Ask your course mates how you can cheer them up. You learned that Gilgamesh was the world's first action hero, which prompted you to wonder if Arnold Schwarzenegger called him out in one of his (action) films. Your course mates might not be interested in such trivia, as they would want to go out and enjoy the outdoors (before spring ends). If pizza and chips would cheer them up, then don't have second thoughts about it. There's also a possibility that most of the world's population would become habituated to the new normal of not going out. You can't let it happen to the likes of you, so talk about the places to go after the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available. You might be missing the bright lights of the big city, so the Big Apple. It could be the City of Angel, if not the Windy City. State capital?
Reminisce your nonacademic lives. You could talk about sports and concerts with your course mates, but the conversation might not last a minute. The thing will go back to the "old normal", which President Donald Trump insists, but world news seems to indicate otherwise. Besides, books and beds are your territories. There's something to chat (for hours). It would be pointless to rant about Dreamworks' adaptation of "How to Train Your Dragon" series, which was far from what (author) Cressida Cowell envisioned. How about scary movies? It should help you look at the pandemic in a different way. For instance, Roman Polanski's loose adaptation of "Club Dumas" would be the right thing to do. Many readers won't be interested in the nitty-gritty of historical landmarks (or the literary classics). It's too high brow, which is normal to the likes of you.
Keep in touch with counselors. They may not be mental health experts, but talking to someone is better than being a thirtysomething bloke looking for acquaintances (to talk to), if not a girlfriend. Have you read too many Nick Hornby novels lately?
Make it casual and lighthearted. The situation out there is too serious, which could force you to steer clear of the news. (And you're not interested in how the coronavirus outbreak changed the course of the 2020 presidential elections. The term is not over. Yet.) It may be too early to talk about summer jobs (or the lack of it), and you don't want another one-liner from a screwball comedy. You seem to be erratic lately. It would be due to the lockdown, but there's no need to fret. Make fun of it. If you laugh out hard, the better.
Talk about Covid-19 and your fear about it. You can't treat Covid-19 like a white elephant that you keep on ignoring for days, if not weeks. And you don't have to worry about how other students would react after they found out that you hardly know about coronavirus at all. You can ask a question or two. One of your course mates will give a lengthy response, which should be good enough. Save your other queries for another day.
Use hopeful language. There's nothing wrong in hoping for the "old normal", but not too soon.
Is there a WhatsApp chat group? You rather keep the conversation casual and lighthearted. Social media is another alternative, but you're a creature of habit.
Establish continuity, which should keep on challenging yourself. If getting off the bed is a huge achievement, then you might be missing on the big picture. The coronavirus wouldn't be eradicated when the vaccine is available. Research would show that social distancing could be the new normal. You must learn to love your room, even if some teenagers compare quarantine to slavery. You must be passionate about books, as the thoughts (and feelings) of dead authors might be the only things to assure you about what lies ahead. Research suggests two years, which is really a long period of time. You're about to indulge on your creative side, though.
There's a Field. Let's Meet There.
The previous section is not an exhaustive list, and there no need to add #hopefloats. You're trying to finish the term while you struggle on a thinly spread set of obligations. It's May. It's still cold. And you're not In a lighter mood at the moment. Chicken Soup for the College Soul?