After two long years, I finally came down with COVID. Yes, I wore my mask and yes, I’m vaccinated. No system is perfect and on Tuesday this week, the bell tolled for me. How does a shut-in author deal with quarantine while maintaining his writing schedule? The answer comes from one of my favorite childhood authors. To the shed, a place where Roald Dahl helps me survive COVID.
You may know that Roald Dahl is the author of such classic kid book greats as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The BFG. Did you also know that Dahl wrote a James Bond movie? It’s true! Roald Dahl wrote the screenplays to You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, both adapted from novels by Ian Fleming.
Not only that, Dahl served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII. He became a fighter pilot and, subsequently, an intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting wing commander. So if a guy like that can write in a shed, then so can I. To the shed, folks – this is how Roald Dahl helps me survive COVID:
That’s not to say that Dahl was perfect. No indeed, Roald Dahl was a flawed man who said and did some awful things in his life. But he was also a good writer, and he told stories that spoke to children. He used his writing to reconcile the traumas of his life, and that’s what I’m trying to do, too. That’s why, even though I’d hardly call Dahl an inspiration, I’m taking what I can learn from his shed to help me write stories that speak to children, too.
For example, I love the idea of being ensconced in an environment where there’s just the story: no vacuum cleaners, no distractions. He’s absolutely right that to write with authenticity will put you in a moony state, if you’ve been immersed in the environment of the story.
Dahl is also correct that writing a book for children is a difficult task, because it requires the discipline of a professional adult while retaining the wonder and emotional purity of a child. Up until I saw this video, I thought there was something wrong with how difficult a task it is to tell a children’s story for children. It’s easier said than done!
So, I’m continuing to work and hone Mike Sierra Echo while I cough and sneeze my way through COVID (49% done with this draft, as of today). I’m taking Roald Dahl’s advice and taking to the shed – he’s helping me survive COVID that way. Moxie is keeping me company.