The Upside Of COVID-19

Bet you thought there couldn’t be an upside, right?

There is–for creatives.

For us authors, now that people are basically housebound, they’re doing more reading. I don’t have evidence, but I imagine sales on the book sales platforms are going through the roof. Mainly e-books, I suppose. There might be a problem with delivery for print books. What I DO have is evidence from my newsletter signups. The last time I posted on March 26, I mentioned I had 287 subscribers. As of today, the 29th, that number is 308. Twenty-one subscribers in 3 days. Between editing and writing these welcome emails, my fingers are tired. Hey, no prob! It’s great exercise!

I’ve been doing some reading, myself. Now that schools are closed for the foreseeable future, there are lots of articles popping up about parents trying to cope with homeschooling their kids. Being the grump that I am, my first thought was “you had the brats, now you know what their teachers go through 5 days a week and why they’re always demanding more pay!” One article really caught my attention. A woman “unschools” her kids (she has 4). They don’t go to school; the world is their classroom. She doesn’t impose a schedule–they go to bed when they want, and get up when they want. Whenever her kids express an interest in something, like astronomy, she goes out and gets the books from the library. Her eldest son, who’s now 20, is a master blacksmith. No money in that? Think again. It’s not about just shoeing horses. Decorative iron work–gates, security doors. My father had custom-made security doors for his house. It’s almost 100 years old, and the companies don’t manufacture doors for the ones like his anymore. They’re totally non-standard–wider and taller–so he had to call in an expert. And there’s the arts. Iron sculptures, to be exact. Art for public spaces, for example. Another of her children is involved in animal rescue, and has her own little business going. She’s developed a curriculum for “unschooling” children and normally sells them for $500. Right now she’s giving them away, and the orders are going through the roof.

Of course, there were comments about how kids “need” and “crave” rules, discipline, structure, and whatever. That last came from a retired schoolteacher. Well, of course. I’ll agree that unschooling isn’t appropriate for all children, but there are some children who’d do just fine. I remember my days in K-8, and what I remember most is boredom. Just boredom. Not because I was so goddamn smart (I am) but because the schools weren’t teaching what I wanted to learn. As often as I could, I’d leave after the end of the school day and head down to the Smithsonian Institution and wander through the museums. I learned so much from doing that. And all those rules–can’t do this, can’t do that. Teachers with the attitude that kids were always up to no good. I wanted to learn real things, important things, not be babysat. So what happened with 9-12? I was accepted into a fine arts high school. I was already fine pianist, but during those four years, I became a damned fine pianist. My last teacher wanted me to enter the Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia. He said I was good enough to be the first American to win since Van Cliburn, back in the 1950s. I didn’t, though. I didn’t have enough faith and confidence in myself–a theme that echoed through my life until I was in my 40s.

Gotta go. Another book request came in. That’s 309, now.


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