Writing during a pandemic

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you know me or you read my debut novel, Perfect Distraction. And through either of those, you probably know I’m an oncology pharmacist.

Work has been crazy lately. In some ways it’s the same, because we’re all still focused on giving our cancer patients the care they need. That means writing chemo orders, seeing them in clinic, sending prescriptions for my clinical pharmacists. Mixing chemo and checking labs and doses for my infusion pharmacists. Dispensing oral medications and counseling patients for my retail pharmacists. We have different roles but all are direct patient care. It’s that last part that has made things so difficult – we’re all terrified we might get our patients sick.

It’s what makes everything feel so different. Half the building is empty – administration having sent everyone who isn’t essential for direct patient care to work from home. Everyone wears masks. We spray down everything all the time. Our restaurant can’t serve food. Anywhere there might be a line – check-in desks, elevators – there’s a strip of tape that says “wait back here.” All patients have to drive through what used to be our circle valet drive to have their temperature checked and to ensure they don’t have COVID symptoms, and if the answer is “yes” to anything, they’re sent to the lower level of our parking garage for triage. We can’t let anyone who might be positive into the building to potentially infect our other patients. To be clear – the providers don’t really care about themselves, we care about the patients. I try to smile at patients I pass in the hall, because they look scared. But they can’t see it, because I’m wearing a mask. I can’t touch or hug a patient I know to comfort them. I stand back when talking through everything with my colleagues, and try to stay in my office whenever possible. It’s incredibly isolating.

So what’s a writer to do? I come home and write. Do I write about what’s going on? No, though I probably should. It might help me feel better, and others might be interested to read it right now. But this is the first time I’ve sat down to write anything about work, because what I NEED is to come home and write my love stories. The romance novels that help me escape and step into a world where there isn’t a pandemic, where my hero and heroine can hug, and where they can go grab a coffee at Starbucks. That’s where my mind needs to go right now in order to debrief and be ready for the next day in the real world. 

Have my writing habits changed during the pandemic? Nope. I need this now more than ever. And maybe y’all need these kind of books now more than ever, too.

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