Did the pandemic change my writing in some way? Hmmmm, I don’t know that it has changed my writing style at all. However, during this time I have learned how to write productively outside of my ideal conditions. Before, I would hole up alone, in the silence, and write for hours on end. As you might imagine, I didn’t often write as much as I wanted because of that! Pandemic life changed that.
My family needed me—and I needed them. The majority of my second book was written sitting at the kitchen table with the chaos of a family of 5 at home all day every day swirling around me. And I grew to love it! I feel like they are much more part of the second book, simply because they were in my periphery rather than blocked out entirely. While I do still enjoy a good isolated writing session, I don’t know that I will ever go back to pursuing that exclusively.
Has the virus affected my writing? Oh my, so very much. When everything first shut down, I was so excited to have some extra time to write! I ended up with an extra week of spring break, during which I was not suppose to do any work, so I planned to use that time to write as much as I could. However, my mind was just…blocked. As time wore on, and I adjusted to quarantine life, I found my muse again. I wrote the bulk of book 2 in the month of July. The words were flying and flowing like mad! It was amazing!
But then, the new school year started. We were online the first quarter, and I suddenly found myself working 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was exhausted and soul-weary. I was in sheer survival mode and didn’t touch a thing to do with my own writing for nearly 3 months.
Now, I seem to have found the balance again and am able to start being creative again.
The idea for my new book, A Dance in Donegal started as a way for me to process our experience of living in Donegal for 2 years early on in our marriage.
That time we spent there was so refining. Those were, in many ways, the hardest 2 years of our lives. But at the same time, it was also a time of intense growth and blessing. After we returned, I found myself pining to return, while at the same time vowing “never again.”
Then, the idea for a story struck me, and I just had to get it on paper. I first started writing it way back in 2004 not long after we returned. Once our daughter was born in early 2005, it sat for years.
I finally picked it back up in 2011, and worked on it sporadically until I finally completed it in January 2017. Writing this story became a way for me to honor our time there, while exploring more deeply all the things I love so much about Ireland and her people.
The descriptions of the lush Irish countryside were by far the easiest parts of the book for me to write. There is no shortage of fodder for the eye in Ireland, and the landscape has a way of seeping into the soul of all who behold it.
The most difficult thing for me was to accurately express what the culture is truly like. So many feel that they understand Ireland, when most of us have barely scratched the surface. There is so much more to the Irish people and culture than shamrocks, luck, and beer. They are a deep, complex people who have overcome so much across the centuries.
Over the nearly 6 years we spent there, the Irish outlook shaped my own so much, and I wanted desperately to give others a glimpse of the authentic Irish life and experience.
My first and main goal for the new year for my writing will be to finish my manuscript for my second book which is due to my editor at Revell in early February.
After that, I will work on plotting out my next few story ideas! I have several rattling around in my head, but I haven’t had the time to really sit down and focus on which one I feel lead to pursue.
Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on
(in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. With
firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine
home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of
living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their
You can find her online at www.thisgalsjourney.com.