Writer in Residence

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: The writing process Part 9 of 9

By Christene A. Browne

One thing about the pandemic is that it has changed how we socialize and interact with other humans. Even before the pandemic people seemed to be becoming more engaged online and less actually connected. The pandemic and the fears and protocols have only amplified this isolation and alienation As I was writing this story, I was reflecting on what romantic relations would look like years from now. I was thinking about the damage that is being done by all the isolation.   How will people connect and what kind of connections will be able to form when people are too afraid to get too close to one another or even touch?

Before I conclude my residency, I wanted to say something about what I feel is the unfair reality that writers and artist in general live in.

The life of an artist is arduous one.  We sometimes spend years perfecting our masterpieces and then must give them away for a song in order to get them published or seen. While those who exploit the work make a living wage, the artist themselves do not.  This reality is rampant in all of the arts.

Luckily, I write not to make a living but because I love writing. It’s unfortunate that here in Canada, novelist who are able to make a living from their work are few and far between.

Another issue that exists within the publishing field and the world of the arts as a whole is the lack of representation. As long as these industries are being lead by one homogeneous group, true representation will never be reached.

Some significant shifts need to be made.

The racial reckoning of the past months have brought about some small changes. We will have to see if this leads to any major or lasting change. As always, I remain hopeful and optimistic in the face of adversity.

As I write this, I am shopping around my third novel; 2084: The Conversion. As a science fiction novel with an absorbing narrative dealing with topical issues, with two women of colour at the center of the story, it appears to check many boxes of the type of work that is needed and is missing in the industry.

I have no idea when and if I will find a publisher, but I have to live with the conviction that the book will somehow find a home.

Here is the conclusion of the story. Some might find the ending a bit too cheesy for their taste, but this is where my imaginary led me. In real time the story was written in about two days without any real editing. Looking back at it now, I think a better, more dramatic (but not as uplifting) ending might have been to end with Eva’s scream. I may consider re-writing the whole thing at a later date and maybe include more true science fiction elements.

Thanks for following me on this journey. I hope you enjoyed it.



    “This is nice,” Eva chimed.

    “Yes, it is, Adam added. He opened his eyes and stepped closer to Eva and touched her mittened hand.

     Eva jumped back screaming. She hadn’t been prepared to be touched. No one had touched her in such a long time.

     Adam had also not touched anyone in a similar amount of time, but Eva’s extreme reaction took him off guard.

    “I’m so sorry. So sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he said as he stepped back much more than the required ten feet.

     “Oh, oh. I’m the one who should be sorry. I don’t know why I reacted like that. You just took me by surprise. A little warning would have helped.”

     “Okay. I know now. I should have known better. What was I thinking invading your person space like that? Do you forgive me?”

     “Yes, yes of course. There is nothing to forgive really. It was an honest mistake. I guess you were caught up in the moment.”

     “Exactly, that’s what it was. And such a beautiful moment. Next time I will make sure to get your consent before breaking the protocol rules.”

      “Sure, sure, don’t worry about it. I’m alright. No harm done, really.”

     “Okay, as long as you say so. Let’s go back that way.”  Adam said pointing in the opposite direction from which they arrived.

     “Sure, okay,”  Eva said as she followed along.

      The rest of the walk was done in silence.

     When they reached the park where they met that day, Adam stopped and looked around.  “These trees here are not as nice as the ones on the path, are they?”

      Eva looked and around and nodded, “No, not nearly as majestic. I can see why you think of them so highly and why you consider them friends.”

Adam eyes twinkled again. “I would like it if we could be fiends.”

      Eva blushed under her mask but didn’t reply.

      The pair waved goodbye at each other and began to walk away.

      “Would it okay if I gave you a call later,” Adam asked.

      “Oh, course, I would like that.”

     “Or a text or an email.”

     “Any and all of those sounds great.”

     “What about video chat?”

      “Sure,” Eva added with a nod. There was now a twinkle in her eyes. One that matched Adam’s.

      “I would like that very much.”

       That night after Adam had eaten dinner and washed the few dishes that he used. He got out his phone and selected Eva’s number that he had already inputted into his phone, under the name of ‘My future wife’.

       Eva was sitting in front of her television when a call came from ‘My future husband’. She was all smiles when she answered the phone.


                                                                                                  THE END

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Christene Browne, originally from St. Kitts, is a well-respected and internationally acclaimed Toronto independent filmmaker and was the first Black woman to direct a feature film in Canada. In 2011 she was awarded the Visionary award by the Women's International Film & Television Showcase for her ground-breaking documentary series Speaking in Tongues: The History of Language, which features Noam Chomsky. She recently completed a feature documentary on Toronto’s Regent Park, the oldest and largest Canadian housing complex, and is working on an animated documentary on the early life of famed Canadian author Austin Clarke. Her first novel Two Women (2013, Second Story Press) is about two women who share the same soul and deals with the cyclical nature of domestic violence. Her second novel Philomena (Unloved) (2018, Second Story Press) tells the story of a woman who lives a life devoid of love and deals with issues of sexual violence, mental health, and homelessness. She currently teaches at Ryerson University in the RTA School of Media and is developing her first libretto.