How very strange my world is a just now. I spend hours immersed in my writing world, living vicariously through my characters. I travel with them back into medieval Iceland and Scotland, survive the brutal 1830’s Clearances of the Scottish Islands and emerge into the ongoing power inequalities in a pre MeToo world.
My characters are like family. I belong to them as much as they to me. I feel their pain, their joy. I know their demons and their triumphs. I escape through them.
And when the writing is finished, I raise my head satisfied with my work and grateful to be back in my own life. But now in this new strange world I am startled anew each time to find that I am returning to a world that has changed, a world in which I am stranger. I look around and see that I am amongst others, familiar but changed. My old world, the one that I had controlled, has gone. It is missing.
How odd then that my novel is titled Missing Pieces It is about the exquisite 11th Century ivory antiquities – the Lewis Chessmen – that went missing, found buried in a Scottish sand hill after 700 years. But there are 50 pieces missing. Where are they? Why have they not been found?
The main characters, five strong women who overcome harsh times, all have pieces missing in their lives. What do they need to do to take back control? How will they find fulfillment?
So many pieces are missing in this strange world of ours where we have all lost so much control. What do I miss the most? The answer is easy. Touch. It was not until it was taken from me that I realised how much I rely on it: to show sympathy, to express surprise, to calm anxieties. To demonstrate love. Now I gently, reluctantly, guide my grandchildren back to a distance safe for them and me, I smile at my adult children rather than greeting them with a hug, I video call my friends and then wave goodbye not knowing when I will see them face to face again.
So tell me - what do you miss the most in this time of Covid19?
Jennifer is a writer of short stories, novels and a family history.