Firstly, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s taken part in this project, giving up your time and telling me your stories. I’ve loved chatting and catching up, and speaking to people I haven’t spoken to in quite a while, sometimes years.
It was a chance to record a unique time in people’s lives, and give them a gift of their lockdown story. I didn’t prescribe anything, or choose people because of what they’d done, I just asked and people volunteered. I didn’t even lead any conversations, rather just starting every conversation with ‘how’s lockdown been for you’ or ‘tell me about lockdown’ and saw where it went; people told their own story.
It’s been a hard graft – I totally underestimated how many people would want to be involved, and then how long everything would take. Each person was an interview, usually over Zoom, for at least an hour. Then to watch it back – while pausing and rewinding to transcribe – and then editing the final piece was a few more hours for each one. I did 30-THIRTY!-in total – probably around 120 hours work all up, which is a huge chunk of time when also working full time, and I’ve struggled to balance the amount of screen time that writing, and my job, needed. My eyes get sore and my back and shoulders ache, because when I get into the flow I forget to stop and move as often as I should. But also – oh, how great working in flow is!
I realised calls don’t actually need to take too long though, as I’d usually get the story and enough content within about half an hour, which is good to know for any future series (there will be more!). A lot of the time was taken with general catching up, but also sharing my lockdown story with people, which, having to relive my COVID experience 30 different times, took a toll.
I’ve felt bad I’ve taken so long to get them all written up, like I’m letting people down, but soon knew that this was only coming from myself; people told me they understood it was a big job. I’ve had to live life at the same time and there’s a few things over the last few months that have been pretty stressful – so I’ve had to prioritise time outdoors, and time for relaxing, just to keep sane and to try and stop burning out-which, in all honesty, I’ve come increasingly close to.
It’s been a slightly different way of writing for me, and I’ve been able to use some knowledge from the journalism course I’ve been doing, which has been GREAT – and makes it a little more palatable that it’s cost me nearly double because I keep extending it. It’s more feature based, and includes a lot more direct quotes. I always get confused though, with what punctuation to use and where when quoting, and have played around with a lot of different things over these posts. I’ve still no idea what’s actually correct or reads best!
I’ve enjoyed observing how differently people talk. Sometimes I’ve transcribed pretty much word for word, sometimes I’ve completely changed the sentence structure to bring something all together. It’s been a fun project to play with, but one of the best things is that I’ve been able to do something nice for other people.
There’s been some emerging themes, and perhaps you’ve identified them if you’ve read many of the stories. Routine is a big one. People love a routine, and one of the stressors of this global pandemic is that it’s interrupted routines and thrown people out of whack – but one of the comforting things is that once they’ve established a new routine, they feel better and more in control.
A lot of people were trying hard to keep a positive mental attitude in the shitstorm that is COVID-19, always looking for the brighter side. I found though, this sometimes went hand-in-hand with guilt, in that seeing the positives only reminded people of what they had that other people didn’t.
People feel guilty for being OK and healthy, or for having a job, or for having a safe place to live. I’d suggest that we can feel empathy and compassion for others in different situations, without having to feel guilty. Guilt does not serve those other people – it only serves to have a negative effect on ourselves, which in turn doesn’t help those around us either. It’s a lose-lose.
All that to say, it’s been a blast, but I’m pleased to wrap it up. Now, until the end of the year, I’ll spend my writing time finishing that journalism course, entering some short story competitions and going back to A year in moments.
Thanks for reading.