Posted in author, Bookaholic, Books, crafting, updates, Writing

Staying Constructive During the Pandemic

Editing in progress…


Well, it’s officially September which means that it’s been a full year since I first started working on my novel “Timelines.” This time last year, I pulled out a spiral notebook and started jotting down my ideas about the story. Then, in October, I sat down at my computer and started writing it.

The rough draft for “Timelines” came together quicker than any other writing project that I have ever worked on. I was thrilled when I had a completed rough draft within 3 weeks– which is the equivalent of warp speed for me!

The next step was to set the manuscript aside so, when I returned to it to start the long, agonizing process of editing it, I would be able to view it with fresh eyes.

(My cat, Sir Fluff, likes to “help” me edit…)

Amazingly, I succeeded in writing another novel manuscript a month later which I’m tentatively calling “This Forgotten Life.” I chose the word “amazing” because I have always struggled to complete drafts. I’m really good at getting ideas and starting rough drafts, but I usually run out of steam mid-way through a project and then struggle to finish it.

I initially began editing “Timelines” during the winter, but I only had a limited amount of time to work on it, and I didn’t make much progress. Then, in March, most of the country shut down due to COVID-19.

Like the majority of workers, I was furloughed from my job at a local library. I remained in email contact with my supervisor, who reassured me for months that I still had a job whenever things returned to normal. But, even after the library re-opened for a limited number of hours per week, they didn’t need me to come in. Then, on July 31st, I received an official letter informing me that they were letting me go.

While it’s been an incredibly difficult year, I have attempted to stay busy and focus on constructive tasks to get through it. I’ve completed several home projects including painting the ceiling in my attic office/studio/spare bedroom. Since we’re living through such stressful times, I wanted something cheerful and fun. And, since I use the space to do a lot of writing, painting, and crafting, I wanted the room to be inspirational. So, I chose a blue skies with clouds theme. What do you think?

To make the project even more fun– and to amuse my nieces and nephew when they come to visit– I added stencils of different animals, plants, and bugs. So, when you’re in my attic you can play the game where you look for shapes in the clouds.

I had so much fun painting my attic ceiling! I already had glow in the dark stars and planets, so I added some stencils with glow in the dark paint. The result: during the day the room is blue skies and clouds and then at night the stars and planets are visible.

I’ve also been plugging away at editing my “Timelines” manuscript. For the past six months, I have worked on it for anywhere from thirty- minutes to several hours nearly every day.

Slowly but surely, the story is coming together. I’m currently on the 7th draft. For the first few, I read through the manuscript on my computer and made changes. For this draft, I printed everything out and I’ve been attacking it with a colored pen. Then, one chapter at a time, I’ve been making these changes in the computer version.

My current plan is to go through two more drafts– one where I highlight sections based on the type of content (dialogue, action, backstory, etc) in an attempt to make sure the story is “balanced.” Then, I plan on reading the story out loud from start to finish (which can help identify problem areas).

Once I’ve completed these steps, I’m going to release a “Beta Reader Edition” of the novel. Since I’m working with such a limited budget and I don’t have the backing of an established publisher for this project, I don’t have the money to hire a professional editor. So, instead, I plan on putting the novel out there and encouraging people to read it and then provide me with feedback.

What have you been doing to stay positive and/or constructive during the pandemic? Feel free to leave a comment.

Stay healthy everyone and thanks for reading!

~ H. S. Contino


I'm a combination writer and crafter. My books include "Shipwrecks of Coos County" (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), “Shipwrecks of Curry County” (Arcadia Publishing, 2017), and "Paw Prints" (Create Space, 2013). I'm also the owner of "Reprieve's Corner: Handmade Crafts" ( I live on the southern Oregon coast.

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