Anne Sebba on writing during the coronavirus

One of our wonderful clients, Anne Sebba, got in touch with me following an offer I had put out on LinkedIn and Instagram for help in content creation. She is an award winning published author and a favourite long time client of ours. My natural marketing mind decided to interview her after she published the article!

What prompted you to get in touch with me and take me up on my offer?

The worry that because I could not travel or go out and so many of my speaking engagements had been cancelled (events which usually form the basis of what I post about on SM) people would conclude I had stopped working. Since I have been writing a book for the past 4 years (about someone who was in solitary confinement for two years so isolation is a subject think about a lot)   have not been as active as I would otherwise have been. The virus and subsequent lockdown therefore felt like a huge blow following on from that as I had a very busy series of lectures planned for March, just after delivering my manuscript in February all cancelled

What was it like in our first call?

You were immediately full of ideas and showed me how one idea I had vaguely thrashed out could in fact turn into at least three blog posts to be spread out…ideas that did not depend on my being somewhere or giving a talk or interview. One could be an Instagram post and the others blogs. I think the importance of your offer was that ideas often do not emerge alone and it is the cross current of talking and thinking with others that provides stimulation and helps refine the best ideas.

What did you do as a result?

You made me feel very creative and inspired me to write about my feelings and activities and one of my little ideas, which I dashed out immediately, was used by my agents (The prestigious Aitken Alexander) on their website as they had just dreamt up a ‘writers in isolation series.’ By acting fast I was number 3 and now there is a queue to be part of this series.

How have you felt about doing this?

It has made me feel empowered or even slightly in control when in all other ways I and everyone else is of course out of control. It has kept me busy at home which is what we are all meant to be and documenting one’s feelings is therapeutic. I am trying to post every day on Instagram and I have other ideas in the works. The result has been small in terms of adding followers (but not negligible) and since my book will now not be published until 2022 given the current back log etc building up followers and persuading people that I have lots of stories to tell is important in the hiatus. We are all in this together may be a cliché but one of the important things for writers to recognise is the importance of saying and writing about things that others are experiencing.

What has been the feedback from that?

Very Positive see above. Like many others I have turned to baking and cooking and am determined to emerge from this crisis with something to show for it (in addition to reading lots more books and editing my own). I have discovered how to make sourdough bread which has been an ambition for years but I never thought I had the time. And that has brought me into a new group of followers/friends beyond simply my usual readers and writers.

What surprised you / did you learn from this?

Oh I suppose only what I already knew that being negative is never a good look and yet being too cheerful at a time when others are sick or dying or losing their jobs is not right either. It is a question of balance …Keren was very helpful here talking me through the right tone to establish.

I think saying encouraging things, trying to be cheerful but not boastful is incredibly important when so many of us face loneliness as well as isolation. Several authors who had books due to be published around now have had their book launches cancelled and it’s important to be supportive of them.  That is a nightmare scenario after years of work and they need all the help they can get.

Be sure to read Anne’s piece on her blog post “10 Reasons to be cheerful during the time of the coronavirus

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