Kathryn Evans is a UKYA author of award winning novels More of Me and Beauty Sleep. When Lockdown began, she set up Our Corona Diary. She’s going a bit stir crazy now.
How are you doing? Bored? Frustrated? Lonely? Worried? Sad?
I know a few people who are enjoying Lockdown. I am genuinely pleased for them but I am not one of them.
Writing is difficult, a real slog, possible at least now, but still hard.
I miss my daughter. I haven’t hugged her since Christmas because she initially got stuck in China during the outbreak of Covid 19 there and then…well, then is now. Lockdown. She’s in her house. I’m in mine.
I’ve zoomed and run and walked and cooked. I’ve painted and phoned and gardened. I am still working for the farm, and trying to finish my new book. I’ve queued for shopping, and growled my way through people not obeying the new rules. I’ve cleaned my house and cleaned out some of the farm archives. I’ve taught my dog new tricks and I’ve read new books. I have much to do but none of it fills the gaping void of normal life. With one tiny exception. This:
When I set up Our Corona Diary, I thought I was doing something for all the children who’s world had been turned inside out. I had no idea how much it would help me when I hit the pits.
Every week we have a new theme. Week 4 was #Friends and I made what turned out to be a bit of a rough and ready therapy video for myself.
#HelloHobby week actually got me motivated to do more than walk my doggo in the allotted exercise outside hour. Although fencing training proper seemed pointless and impossible without my beloved coach, I tried, and it made me smile:
Our Corona Diary has kept me close to the pals who answered my pleas for help to get it all up and running. Jo Wyton who set up the entire website while working full time and home schooling her gorgeous little boy. Addy Farmer who is inspiring the youngest of our diary writers and who’s very breath seems to calm me. And Candy Gourlay whose friendly professionalism and wisdom have such magnetic charm that she’s convinced many, many wonderful writers and illustrators to share their diary making ideas on our website. I have amazing friends. No wonder I miss them.
And then, there are the people I set the project up for. People like 10 year old Charlie who will probably never get to have his year six T.D.O.F (Three Days Of Freedom)
And Violet Class who sum up #SchoolLockdown so well :
Diarists, you’re helping me, I hope we’re helping you because we hear you and we’ll keep our promise. Our Corona Dairy will be posting until Lockdown is over and then we’ll open up for submissions to our archive – and all of you, everyone of you who tell us you’ve taken part, will be named.
Legendary award winning author Candy Gourlay has guided us in resource building and ideas on how to make a website work and what to do on Instagram and, basically, all things social media AND she drew the picture above!
Dear pal and genius Jo Wyton has built the website. BUILT IT. While also having a one woman birthday party for her son, at home, with no visitors. She’s made something so clever and beautiful I could weep with pride even though I daren’t touch it in case I break it.
Writer and woodland fairyAddy Farmersprinkled magic over the early years pages even while she was ill!
Matt Killeen, yes COSTA SHORTLISTED UBER-AUTHOR Matt Killeen has made videos with lego and written letters to authors asking them to contribute resources while at the same time homeschooling a 4-year-old. The man is a SAINT.
I had an idea to bring us all together while we’re being kept apart. Teachers and parents this is a difficult time – trying to teach children at home is going to be tough. Here’s a small project that might be a help.
For the time being, please register your interest either by commenting here or by getting in touch. A dedicated website is coming! Schools who’ve contacted me on Twitter or Instagram it would be great if you could also email so I can keep track of everyone. I have got help but this is growing and I don’t want anyone to miss out!
The original letter Kathryn Evans wrote to all school children.
Dear Children wether you are off school (or not!) ,
I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with a way to help the thousands of you now suddenly off school for who knows how long. A big part of my job as a writer is going into schools and talking to young people about the themes of my books and creative writing. I already miss the challenging questions, the cheeky interruptions, the INCREDIBLE ideas and enthusiasm.
Last night, I was writing to some of my Book Pen Pal schools with a heavy heart. My role in that organisation is to recommend books to encourage children to read for pleasure. I love being part of it but I felt I couldn’t recommend a book that so many children would not be able to get hold of – schools and libraries have closed and not everyone has spare cash, for books, especially now so many are temporarily out of work.
My book pen pal suggestion, earlier in March, was The Diary of Anne Frank. I read it recently and was struck but how completely ordinary it was and yet completely captivating. I really felt I knew that young woman, through her writing, and it’s such a precious document of a horrible time. It gave me an idea.
Instead of reading a book, let’s write one. Together. All you need to do is keep a diary of all the ordinary and extraordinary things that will happen and I’ll figure out the rest.
You will be heard. Stay well, much love Kathryn
PS If you want to know what book I would recommend through all this though, it’s another diary! Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging – guaranteed to make you laugh!