I chose to read and review Writedown for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied for review purposes.
Writedown is a book that will serve well as a historical insight of shared experiences during a very unusual and difficult time. A group of people in Galloway, Scotland write of their concerns for loved ones, fears and general reactions to living in the midst of what would turn out to be the first lockdown during a worldwide pandemic.
Many of the emotions, adjustments to daily life and worries are all too relatable – coping with isolation, not being able to see family, except via a device/computer screen or talking on the phone, especially hard for those living alone or those without any outdoor space – as a ’new reality’ became the norm.
‘Time becomes strange. A week feels long. Yet each day rushes past.’ — June
The individual entries showed people did what they could to fill time, which should have been spent doing other things, spending time in nature, gardening, reading, writing, even making scrubs for hospital staff – luckily the weather was generally very good during those months.
Many emotions were expressed, including anger, grief, humour, anxiety and loneliness, and the effects of it all, both mental and physical. On the other side of the coin, it was also a time to slow down, not be tied down to an agenda, a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature which thrived, and with little to no traffic on the road or in the air the earth people were pleased to see the earth showing definite signs of recovery.
‘There are no planes in the sky. The air is clear, even in Beijing: I saw it on the news. How long have we campaigned for this.’ — Margaret
And then of course, there was the awful political news from other countries, plus our own government’s inefficiency and the emotional and horrific reality of the deaths nearer to home, which caused anger, sadness and distress.
‘I don’t often cry, but tears well up when I hear of people dying alone in hospital, with no family around them. A 17-year-old carer gives a client a gift of a cushion on which is imprinted his late wife’s photo. He cries. I cry.’ — Mary
Writedown certainly isn’t all doom and gloom though, there’s humour and lighter moments, appreciating the pleasure of simple things like the beautiful landscapes, flowers, having time to plant and grow. Taking time to listen to the birdsong, admiring the world for its flora, fauna and natural beauty. It’s an intriguing glimpse into how a community coped during an unprecedented time.
About the Book
Writedown provides a unique record of life in Galloway, south west Scotland during lockdown through the work of 22 writers in a collection of lyrical poetry, desperate rants, humour and quiet endurance. They tell the story of a community encountering unprecedented times.