How quarantine made me a writer
Lockdown. Here's a word that we used to associate with dictatorship, war, or, in my case, George Orwell's 1984. For a young adult, it seemed unimaginable that I would ever experience times of fear, isolation, and a skyrocketing death rate. It was even more unthinkable that we could get something out of it. Back in March, 2020, staying at home was a chance to recover from life's crazy speed. That is, for most people. Me? I had already been working at home for almost four months as an English teacher for online students in Brazil. There was little change in my routine – I was mostly sorry I couldn't go to the gym, cause I'm an endorphin junky. Of course, we all thought quarantine wasn't going to last. It then became clear we had better get used to Zoom meetings, face-masks, or, in my case, keeping a distance from my family (who wasn't following all the guidelines as strictly as I was – still am). Like all newly bakers, DIYers, yogis, I too put my energy into one task: starting my writing career. With a zillion unfinished stories on my computer and a zillion more in my head, I didn't know where to begin. After all, I was exhausted from all the jobs I had taken thinking they would lead me somewhere, when in fact they were dragging me further from my writing goals. Luckily, I received an email announcing a writing contest for eBooks. And I thought “this is it!” (in reality, I was probably thinking, “why not?”). I only had a couple of months to do what most writers take years to accomplish: finish a story and publish it. After selecting one short-story that wasn't so bad and kind of had an ending, I rewrote it, revised it, then turned it into a great eBook (with the help of my uncle to design the cover). Basically, I was the writer, agent, editor, launch team of my first book. When I sent a message to my mom, with a link for purchasing her daughter's first published book, she had to call me to make sure she got it right: “What is that link you sent me? Is that a book? Your book? How did you do it?” And I was thrilled to have finally done it! After all, I had been dreaming of this feat ever since I drew/wrote a book about a mermaid when I was seven. As a perfectionist, though, I wanted to go further. My self-published, barely revised book couldn't be my only one. That's when I decided to really pursue my career as an author (at last, I can call myself that). So I quit one of my jobs (the one as an English teacher) and started writing a new novel in 2021 – its first draft is already complete, and I'm currently working on editing it (this time, to send to a literary agent). Also, I knew that, as amazing as that eBook was (a true accomplishment for the little time that I had), I needed lots of help on how to write mesmerizing stories, pitch them for agents, build my online platform (which I'm still working on, btw), promote my future books… So, I took some free classes (remember, I quit my job) and sent my draft to a friend who reads the same kind of genre to get some feedback. What I've learned so far from this process? That it only takes a crazy pandemic to make people rethink their life choices and pursue their dreams. Kidding. Sort of. I did learn that there are many master classes, webinars, blog posts, and guides that really are helpful to writers who want to focus on this part of their lives without spending any (or little) money. So let's take those Covid-19 lemons and make some lemonade!