Friday, March 19, 2021

Of Mullets and Microphones

by Abir

How has “Lockdown Life” affected your writing? Have you written more? Developed/honed new writing skills? If so, please tell us about it. Or have you found yourself off-track, lacking motivation, or otherwise sidelining your writing? If the latter, how have you handled that?




Friday again


This week, we are talking the effects of Lockdown on writing life.


Let’s look at the first part of the question:


Have you written more: 

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha!

That’s very funny.


I have eaten more, though. A lot more. And spent far too much time reacquainting myself with some of Scotland’s famous glens: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie to name a few.


In terms  of writing, like James yesterday, my writing also fell off a cliff last March and recovered somewhat in April, but my productivity didn’t really improve till May. Like James, I too keep a spreadsheet on Excel, but mine are better cos I also do graphs. (Making graphs is a great distraction from having to actually write stuff and the pretty colours make me feel good.)

Spreadsheeting like a boss, Ziskin!

Lockdown hasn’t been all bad, though. There have been positive aspects:


I’ve learned to cut my own hair.

Back last June, I went on Amazon and bought the cheapest hair clippers and grooming kit I could find, then watched a few You Tube videos on how to cut one’s own hair. For some reason the videos seemed mainly to be posted by men with mullets in rural Kentucky. I can only assume that cutting one’s own hair is part of the culture there. My first couple of attempts weren’t brilliant. It turns out that buying the cheapest clippers was not a good idea. For some reason they were stuck on a setting I can only imagine was called ‘gouge’ rather than ‘cut’ because it would take a hold of a clump of hair and attempt to rip it out rather than trim it. I can’t be 100% sure if that’s accurate because the instructions aren’t in English. Anyway, my wife said I looked like a survivor of a Russian gulag and I had to wear a hat for most of the summer. But the thing is, I persevered. I got better at it, and now my haircuts are perfectly decent – at least from the front. At the back it still looks like a bomb-site, but I can’t see that, so it’s ok.


Like the rest of us, I’ve been keeping in contact with the outside world through Zoom. That quickly went from being something to use to keep in touch with friends to becoming a vital tool for the business of marketing. Zoom has let me talk to audiences in parts of the world I’d probably never get to go to, at least not without crossing borders illegally.  So vital is Zoom these days that I decided to add a bit of professionalism to the whole thing. I spent £200 on a hi-tech microphone which I can get to work almost 50% of the time and which makes me sound like the love child of James Earl Jones and a vacuum cleaner. A friend of mine also bought me a professional web-cam which basically shows up every wrinkle on my face, even in low light, so I hate it. But it’s on a wire and I quickly realised I could hold it up behind me and use it to look at the back of my head on the computer screen. I shall therefore use it the next time I cut my hair.


Somebody suggested I get a ring light – apparently that’s a special light you use to illuminate your face on Zoom calls – but rather than waste money, I’ve managed to achieve the same effect simply by shining two table lamps directly at my face from different angles. It causes my pupils to contract and my eyes to water and makes me feel like I’m being interrogated by the Gestapo, but it does somehow make the wrinkles on my face look less like the Grand Canyon, so that’s good.


I’ll end with something a bit more positive. Lockdown has brought our family closer. Having more time to spend with my wife and kids has been a real blessing. I didn’t think it would be this nice. In the past, there’s never been enough hours in the day, what with writing and travelling. I’ve been guilty of focussing on work, sometimes to the detriment of family life. This year has been different. My motivation for work has been lower, but I’ve watched my boys grow up and my relationship with my wife has gotten stronger. The key now, I suppose, is keeping those good things after lockdown ends.


Have a great weekend, and stay safe.


Catriona McPherson said...

That's lovely to hear! Seriously, it warms my heart to think that your hair is so terrible from the back. Cx

Susan C Shea said...

You have a viable second career option as a stand up comic, although I think I'd rather clean bathrooms for a living than stand in front of an audience primed to let me know what they think of my words.

James W. Ziskin said...

As always, Abir, great post! But I’ll put my spreadsheet up against yours any day!


Abir said...

Cheers Catriona!
Yes - who knew the back of one's head could become modern art?!

Abir said...

Hi Susan!
I'm too lazy for stand up.
Sit down comic is as good as I get!

Abir said...

Hey Jim!
As of tomorrow I'm adding macros and 'nested if' statements to my spreadsheet. That should help me put off the actual writing for a day or two!