All the grieving people you meet, right after your own spouse dies, say “take your time; wait a year.”
So as the pandemic shut us all down, I was walking to the one-year mark from DK’s almost gentle death, looking for how life might blossom again, anticipating stepping out a bit from the shadow of massive sorrow.
Instead, then, like my phone buddies (widows A and J and D), I kept saying “Thank goodness he didn’t live to see this pandemic. He would have been terrified, and dying would have been so much harder.”
A funny kind of mourning.
Then I got to work. I already had the start of a Vermont novel sitting on the computer: “Queen of the Kingdom,” where an 80-year-old fortune-teller in a nursing home feels dementia coming on … but can’t tell which is the illusion and which is her psychic vision. It took just one question to raise the tension of the book: What happens when COVID-19 arrives in her life?
From then on, every morning’s to-do list began with Q of K, write next chap. By July, the first draft was, can you believe it, done?!
Next steps: “beta” readers, pro editor, a couple of other novelists. And by October, QUEEN OF THE KINGDOM took form as a 116,000-word contemporary novel across generations (wait til you meet Queen Lee’s granddaughter Kira and her friends; not to mention Kira’s always-in-trouble mom).
Now the terror slowly retreats in our part of the globe, and my arm recovers from the first vaccine injection, and my grandkids begin to talk about visiting me in Vermont.
What does a novelist do at the almost end of a pandemic? Find a publisher. And most of all, readers. Just wait til you find out what Queen Lee saw in the cards about what’s up ahead. Right?
And grieve a little. Because it’s two years, today. Thanks, DK.