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Virus Without Borders: Chapter Fifty-Nine

"Inner Freedom" © copyright by Malak Mattar 2021. Malak is a Palestinian artist from Gaza who is now studying in Istanbul. As my March birthday is also the one year anniversary of sheltering-in-place, I decided to treat myself to one of Malak's paintings. 


Inner Freedom



I've always wanted to write a poem that ends/at the ocean. How the poem gets there doesn't much matter, just so at last/it arrives.


-Jim Moore, from "Poem That Ends at the Ocean"



Since I became a writer, I have always wanted to write one book a year. These past few years I have almost fulfilled this ambition, but I never thought I would get to Chapter 59, much less 35 or 40 or 50 in Virus Without Borders. I never imagined that a dedicated blog by that domain name—one  I own—would  be hacked by bad actors, and that I'd have to shift it to my more secure Authors Guild site, or that I'd only be writing about the pandemic and putting other projects aside for an entire year. Indeed, the blog/ book began to feel like the pandemic itself: unending.


It began as a project to maintain a writer's discipline, to keep track of time passing or fading away, to process the constant challenges we have all experienced, to acknowledge the struggle, mourn the dead, and to document my personal experience of the pandemic. My intention was to write one chapter every week or ten days, and when the pandemic was over, to donate the book blog—or blog book, I never could decide—to an archive somewhere for future historians to use. I am sure many other writers and artists will do the same. But the pandemic is far from over and won't be for a long while. What else do I have to say about it? We all know the deal: vaccinate as fast as we can, continue vigilance and safety protocols, and return to life and justice initiatives with other survivors—friends, families, colleagues, neighbors, kindred spirits. We are survivors. Will it be difficult to accept that very fact? 


I  am gratified that this blog/book has sustained me and others. Some readers have written to me privately with their own comments and stories, some have commented on the website's comments function. I hope that I'll continue to see you on the same Authors Guild site in the weeks and months ahead, that this post today is a coda for Virus Without Borders, but not the end of connection between this writer and her readers. As the restrictions of the pandemic recede, we can move on together and continue a conversation. I'll be returning to ruminations, interviews, reviews and stories about writing, the writing life, and much else, some still pandemic related, some not. All the posts, including Virus Without Borders, are archived, dating back to 2008. Dip in. Enjoy. Comment. Share your stories.



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