Executive Director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation
What, if anything, are you doing differently?
I’ve been spending as much time as possible sitting outside of my house. I have a pair of Adirondack chairs in my front yard, and I sit down with some tea once a day and just watch the world go by once in a while. There are few cars and fewer people, but that means when they DO pass, they mean more. And there’s still a breeze, and birds, and other wildlife. And it shakes up my brain and makes me feel free, rather than trapped. When I go back in to get back to work, I’ve always got more energy.
Are you staying creatively active?
I sure am. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen a pretty big uptick in my ability to focus and be productive. I’m writing every day, before the world wakes up — which is normally a very UN-productive time for me — and feeling really connected to my work. I find being forced to stay connected to my home and my family to be a boon to my energy and groundedness.
How are you sparking yourself creatively?
I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone else, but I find that keeping the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus map open in my browser, and tabbing over to it from time to time, makes me focus with great intensity. There’s something about the regular reminder of death and suffering — the knife-edge we live on right now — that compels me to create and helps me avoid any internal criticism. It’s a source of urgency and power. I’ve also been finding that getting on video chats with friends from around the country — creatives wrestling with the new challenges of day-to-day existence — is both inspiring and relieving.