Writing In Isolation

Here I am again. 

It’s been nineteen days since I’ve been on the bus, the subway, or at the office. It’s been sixteen days since anyone besides the two of us was in the house. I’ve been ticking off these grim little milestones because most sites agree that COVID-19 can incubate for up to fourteen days (though I’ve seen estimates both higher and lower). I figure any time one of these things passes the “Fourteen days since” mark, it means I’ve likely dodged another infection bullet. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

So if Twitter is any indication, I wasn’t the only writer who thought an upside of being confined to one’s house for the foreseeable future would be lots and lots of writing time. Surely I’d make tons of progress on my various novels and drafts and knock out a couple of short stories to boot, right? 


Again, if Twitter is any indication, I’m not the only writer who found myself unable to focus long enough to write a shopping list, much less fiction. My brain went on a week-long freakout. I’d open up a Scrivener page and immediately think Nah. Open up an existing draft to at least do some editing? Nah. How the fuck do you write fiction when the real world is such a horror show? 

That was a terrible feeling. Awful. 

But then the Weekly Knob’s 200th prompt rolled around. They changed things up a bit for this one: we were to gather our favorite fictional characters at a dinner party and let ‘er rip. 

I knew I had to do this, no matter what. 

Seriously, three cheers for the Knob. They saved me in 2016 when I’d just been axed from my longtime job and didn’t know what in hell to do with myself. The kind reception my first submissions got gave me the wild idea to start submitting my work to other markets and participating in programs like Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars. 

And here we are in 2020 and I’ve been let go from work again and a real-life horror scenario has engulfed the world, and I’ve been so upset over it all that I thought my ability to write might never come back. 

And the Knob saved me again. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to write for this one. I wrote the story completely piecemeal and out of order, but slowly, as I filled in the spaces between the scenes, it became a story-shaped thing. 

This is not my most original idea. And I probably could have varied the genres more instead of using an all-vampire (or vampire-adjacent) cast. 

But y’know what? I’m damned proud of this one anyhow. Not because it’s my best work, but because I marshaled the will to write it during a really horrible time, when I thought I might have lost my ability to create anything. I liked doing it. 

So I hope you like Last Supper too. 

A brief roundup of the characters for those who might need it:

The Count, I hope, needs no introduction. 

Vlad Dracul was the famed and feared ruler of Wallachia, known as Vlad the Impaler because of what he did to his enemies. You may have seen the infamous woodcut depicting Vlad eating a meal in a forest of impaled bodies. Bram Stoker borrowed the name Dracul for his Count. Some Dracula movies have run with this idea and made Vlad the actual Count, but Stoker himself didn’t. 

Such an Instagrammable moment!

Orlok is the main character of Nosferatu, the silent film rip-off of Dracula that Stoker’s family tried to sue out of existence. A court ordered all copies of the movie destroyed, but you can’t keep the undead down for long. 

The movie is not very good (though it has its moments), but Orlok’s vampiric appearance has become iconic. Fun fact: The whole “vampires being killed by sunlight” thing started with Nosferatu. The filmmakers wanted to come up with a way to kill their vampire other than staking, so as not to rip Dracula off too blatantly. Nosferatu may not be that great, but it sure has been influential.

Hey, anyone got a nail file?

Simona, though my own invention, is inspired by the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wanted to get Buffy in there somewhere, but she and the Count actually met during the run of the show, so I needed someone he wouldn’t know. 

Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up this week and I’ve committed to editing my project from last November, so I’m hoping that’ll help me to stay focused. If you’re in a similar bind, I hope you find something to help you buckle down too.

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