I opened the window to my second-story office that faces the street and leaned out. Since I live on a block of Brownstone-style residential buildings, it was not uncommon to see Varick sitting near the top of the stoop steps of his next-door residence.
“Hey, neighbor, I hope my social distance is appropriate,” I said.
He laughed. Varick is a prized acquaintance. He’s mature, smart and I’ve marveled at the way he engages the diverse people of our community. I know if I have a question or concern, he’ll take the time to speak with me.
COVID-19 and its impact shaped the core of our conversation. We both confessed that we were taking the threat very seriously. Although we reside in Jersey City in the great state of New Jersey—just over the Hudson River from lower Manhattan— until recently, our professions often took us to the Big Apple, the epicenter of coronavirus in the USA.
Varick is an actor who does a lot of voice work, including audio books. I’m a ghostwriter and book coach who spends too much time in his office and therefore relishes meetings in the City. When I expressed my concerns about isolation, Varick was upbeat.
“It’s all coming back, man,” he said. “Entertainment, come on, it’s not going away.”
The same is true of publishing, self-help books, business nonfiction, memoirs and every other literary genre known to Man.
“My friends are using this time to create new content, so they are ready when the tide changes,” Varick added.
My neighbor inspired me. While some experienced professional people were hunkered down at home with nothing to do, his actor friends who were also at home would use this time to refresh their website copy and design. And they would update and improve the audio and visual reels that they rely on for virtual auditions. In short, anything and everything that might improve the career prospects of Varick and his entertainment brethren would be reassessed. Their determination to prepare for the future is best expressed in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Readiness is all.”
Seeing the Future
Everyone else, me included, can take a page from Varick’s playbook. See the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our habits, but someday the sun will rise again, and we’ll be left with the challenge of furthering our businesses, dreams and relationships.
The book you started but have not yet finished might be revisited now, if you are suddenly at home and wondering what to do with your time. When September rolls around, you’ll be glad you got back on track with your writing.
Businessmen and women who are reluctant to spend on services to create a book, webinar script or other types of content s might ask, “How could new visual and written material re-establish my place in my industry?” Get ahead of coronavirus by insisting that something better will replace it.
Love that Binds & Believes
Love is often a many splintered thing. As it ages, love is not perfect, nor does it promise a fulfillment of dreams deferred. Yet without it, where are we?
Through the years, I have spoken to innumerable people who have confessed, “I’ve always wanted to write.” I’m not knocking that sentiment or putting down anybody for not starting. Through my long career that has included journalism, playwriting, screenwriting, fiction and non-fiction books, even I have gone through difficult passages. No, it wasn’t writer’s block that stopped me from creating content. It was a paralysis that pulsated between disbelief in my future and an ache to justify doing what I love most: Writing my stories.
I now help people create their stories, either as a book coach or ghostwriter, and I’ve never worked with a client, who in the end, regretted the process. In most cases, they glowed with gratitude. They could now hold in their hands, a paperback copy of their long-held aspiration.
As this pandemic spreads its horror, some might wonder, “What’s the point in writing my life story?” I would say, the operative word is “life.” You’ve lived it, why not share it? Why not honor it? Why not revel in its many shifts, paradoxical layers and even disappointments. In other words, why not insist that your life has been well worth living? Ernest Hemingway once said that any person’s life well told was a novel. I would add, or a memoir, teaching guidebook or inspirational book.
Before our conversation ended, I told Varick that I was now two-weeks into my isolation from the woman I love. Her multi-generational family dynamic is strong, I said, and yet very much vulnerable to our modern-day plague. We made the decision to embrace a virtual relationship until the skies cleared and we no longer feared the possibility of transmitting the virus.
Varick understood and confessed that the woman in his life—at the urging of family elders—had suggested hosting a dinner. What? He thought. Now?
Regardless of his concerns, he’ll attend the gathering while limiting his social contacts elsewhere. And, most importantly, he’ll keep is eye on the prize: The day his industry reboots and surges toward the next big thing.