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Literary Love in the Time of Coronavirus

I couldn’t breathe. It was the first day of December in 2016 when I was grasping my chest on the curb waiting for the ambulance. I didn’t have enough strength to battle my Los Angeles parking woes with my car locked in a garage three blocks away from my shabby studio apartment building in Koreatown. I had been having similar episodes over the last few weeks, but I was able to control them with pulling out the inhaler I barely used.

This time, it failed. Though I was one of the few adults who never outgrew my food allergies to wheat and milk, I had outgrown asthma. At the hospital, I had a breathing treatment on a noisy nebulizer sealed behind a curtain, reminiscent to scenes throughout my childhood of receiving daily treatments during school in the nurses’ office. The doctors said I was having a bronchospasm, a sudden constriction of the muscles in the walls of the bronchioles that lead to the lungs.

Returning home with a sore chest that felt like I was recovering from a heart attack, I soon realized the bronchospasms may be caused by stress. Self-quarantining while immunocompromised amid the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be the best option for my lungs, but other readers and writers seem to be taking advantage of the potential self-care that could be done over the weekend and possibly the next two months.

As a writer, I want to:

  • Finish the short story collection I started during NaNoWriMo: In November, thousands of writers around the globe embark on a monthlong adventure called National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo to come close to completing a novel with 50,000 words. And like most of those writers, my projects suffer after November. I’ve surprisingly been adding to the one I started in 2019, and I would like to complete the roughest first draft this spring.
  • Send out more query letters for my young adult novel: Every new year means me pitching my novel to literary agents. In past years, I quickly grew annoyed and stopped sending letters. Now realizing I quit before the odds weighed in my favor, I’ve been sending out a good number of letters every few weeks. I need to keep the momentum of my 2020 resolutions.
  • Resurrect three old manuscripts and make stronger story plans: In part to the previous goal, I queried other novels. But I think they could be better, so for the past few months I’ve been trying to find quiet times to meditate on how the story should morph, what should happen next for my characters, and what will the story look like at the end. Many authors discuss how they weren’t able to sell manuscripts at first, but I want to take the challenge that these stories have promise and could succeed with extreme improvement.

As a reader, I want to:

  • Write several book reviews: 2020 is already a heavy reading year, so much so I fell behind on producing book reviews for books I had read weeks ago.
  • Create an ancestry search book syllabus: Over the past year, I’ve been researching my family trees in the Americas. It had become stressful looking through death certificates, Census Bureau lists, and other government documents, so I decided to stay on track with books that could open my mind on the subject. I’ve just started reading Roots by Alex Haley. I hope to finish the almost 700-page book within this quarantine period.
  • Read more appealing books: Like other book bloggers, I tend to focus on the hottest books of the moment. But some of these books didn’t keep me engaged. From my personal statistical analysis, many books that rise to the top are usually three stars, so I want to read books that appeal to me regardless of its release date.

What are your reading and writing goals during the coronavirus crisis?

Write your goals into existence in the comments below. And stay healthy!

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