Pandemic, writing it into your work…or not?

I’m facing two problems with my newest writing project.

One: Should I incorporate the pandemic into my plot? Should I make reference to it?

Two: What will life be like in a year from now?

I have a hunch that wearing masks will become ubiquitous, much like it always has been in Asia.

I also believe that shaking hands will become a thing of the past.

And once this is over, I’m guessing there will be a glut of office space that will become available. Companies will have proof that their employees can function quite nicely from home.

Teleconferencing has already become the new normal.

Will people be carrying around cards proving that they’ve either tested normal or tested that they have had the virus and have built up immunity? Will those people be the only ones who will be able to go to work, socialize in a bar, or dine in a restaurant?

I recently sent my latest book, Shadow Hill, to my publisher. Of course I’m always on pins and needles until I hear back from her. You’re hoping that your work is good, but in the back of your mind, you’re worried sick that they’ll think it’s trash. When I started writing Shadow Hill, it was easily a year ago. No one had even heard of Covid-19.

So, there is absolutely no mention of it in the manuscript. Not one word.

In the book, people shake hands, they have face to face meetings, they have drinks together, and they have sex.

In writing the new book, I hate to think that my protagonist might be forced to conduct her investigation and do an interview from her kitchen using Zoom. I’m not sure I can write an action scene where everyone is wearing a mask. And writing a sex scene between two people who haven’t been isolating for fourteen days? “No, darling, I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until they invent a vaccine.”

In the New York Times this morning, there’s a lengthy piece about what the next year or two may look like. It ranges from the mildly frightening to the downright horrifying.

So the big question is: what will be the effects on our writing?

Pandemic, writing it into your work…or not?
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