Posts It’s been a year: Writing my way through the pandemic

It’s been a year: Writing my way through the pandemic

by treenaorchard
Heart in hand while writing during the Covid-19 pandemic
Writing with my heart in my hand & on my paper

When the maelstrom of masks, mandates, and mass retreat began a year ago, I began a special writing project. Housed in a Word file called “Corona writings”, it is intended to be a record of all the things I have written since the pandemic began. It includes creative writing, academic articles and book chapters, and the odd media post. Since March 17, 2020, I have written over 100,000 words.

This file does not include all the emails, work-related documents, and extraneous tidbits that float throughout my digitized everyday life. These extra bits might equal around 60,000 words, which makes for a yearly total of 160,000 words typed.

What does this sum mean though? I found some comparatives to flesh out this Goldilocks number, which is neither bigger nor smaller than I thought it might be:

  • 320 Op-Eds (@500 words each)
  • 145 Online articles (@1100 words each)
  • 20 Academic articles (@8,000 words each)
  • 2.5 Novels (@ 50-70,000 words each)

What do I see in this file and all these letters? First, it is an attempt to capture and control this unprecedented experience and how I move through it. Both roadmap and mirror, words have long provided a place to unfold myself emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Second, I am productive AF. Third, I bought a house and experienced a break-up and rekindling of the same relationship, twice.

There are a multitude of other things too: a graduate student defending her thesis, George Floyd & BLM, a cross-country road-trip to see my family in Ontario as well as Saskatchewan, and the election of Joe Biden and the first woman of colour to occupy the position of Vice-President. I have also witnessed and lived through my first pandemic while the planet gasps for air.

Covid-19 has generated and resurrected old fears and, in many instances, it has deepened them. Anti-Asian racism combines with the principles of manifest destiny and consumer capitalist ideals disguised as autonomy and freedom denied. This has been a time of a wintering, a retreat into our homes and ourselves. Sometimes we like what we find and sometimes we don’t, which often sees us striking out against the “Other” instead of cleaning out our selves. Such are the tendencies of our species.

Many books are being written about the impact of Covid-19 on our world and what we might become, and I might too. But for now, I thought it might be fun to share some snippets from my special file that continues to balloon in size.


1. March 17 Instagram Post- Flutter

We flutter about in our new quiet days, not quite sure what to do. That’s ok. Learning how to fold ourselves into the corners of life inside is a creative challenge. We’re all doing it, love.

17. April 24 Instagram poem- For Women Who Roar challenge to write what healing feels like in your body in 10-20 words. Mine was one of five entries they posted online.

Healing feels like
a stranger inside my body,
until she gains the courage to
remember she’s been
here all along.

23. May 27 Instagram post- Spirare

I recently learned that “conspire” comes from the Latin and French words for “plot”, “together”, and “breathe.” Ahmaud was jogging. Atatiana was in her home with the front door open. George was in his car, he said “please.” To breathe is to exist and to conspire is to do this fundamental act alongside one another. We’re not all doing it, love.

34. July 23 Instagram post- For Women Who Roar challenge about Mental Health

She lives in the stars
Until the skies crack open
Releasing epoch energies
That hurt and carry her through
Rain’s cleansing wash
Once more

42. October 5 & 6- random notes

Love travels a sticky flow of energies that ignite, excite, and sometimes cool. The meaningful relationship I Tindered my way into a year ago has come to a close. My heart is tender but ok. This relationship taught me a lot and was by far my most healthy, which I’m proud of and grateful for. Alongside tears and painful discussion there are words, always words. Part salve and part inside teacher, they lay like grey lace over the screen.


57. January 16, 2021 Abstract Submission to Gendered Bodies Under Covid Special Issue (Accepted)

Abstract: Covid & Climacteric: The Quiet Collision of Two Crises

Under Covid many of us work and care for one another within the walls of our homes. Retreat and conservation are the dominant states of being, yet within this period of cultural hibernation there is also growth and some of it is occurring inside my body. Ironically, it is the kind of growth that signals the end of something, specifically my reproductive capacity. I have begun the maligned fertility drama called perimenopause, which is often equated with sexual demise and various life crises. Hormones natural and foreign collide with social narratives about sweaty sheets, dry vaginas, and bodies that sprout unwanted scents as well as facial hair. The saving grace is that this embodied performance is occurring behind closed doors, thanks to the digitization of life during the pandemic. How else is Covid impacting this shift in my body and my subjectivity as a woman, a lover, and a sexuality scholar? Using auto-ethnographic reflections and scholarly feminist analysis of reproduction and pandemic literature, this paper explores the relationship between the pandemic and my slowing cycle. Fear, uncertainty, death (physical, social), and cataclysmic change are among the key themes explored in this unique, timely discussion.

Thus concludes my look back and inward, for now. How are you tracking the pandemic? I’d love to hear from you xo

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Dr. Treena Orchard

London, Ontario

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