As many writers can no doubt understand, struggling to find time to write while balancing a full-time job is a constant challenge. Over the last few years I squeezed in opportunities in the mornings, evenings and weekends to work on my latest books. So the idea of taking a break to completely focus on my passion was a bit of a dream for me.

Kitted Out

Kitted Out

Yet life under lockdown for three months wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind. Although I know that my lockdown, as a single person without children, is very different from those who have had to balance home-schooling with working their jobs, and never having a moment to themselves.

In mid-March, with that lingering threat of a pandemic in the air, my temporary job as a communications officer had just ended, and I was planning to go on a trip around the world to get over the end of a difficult, and abusive, relationship. The holiday was cancelled at the very last minute, and instead of living in my flat, where I may have suffered under an abusive relationship, as so many women did under lockdown, I went to live at my parents’ house. Yet I also had the stress of wondering when my ex-partner would move out of my flat, and when I could move back in, given he was now without a job.

As a forty year old woman, living with my parents again wasn’t ideal, but it offered me a larger space to work from, and the peace and sanctuary from my ex-partner that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was great to have the company of my parents, and we enjoyed taking it in turns to cook. I was in charge of the baking to keep us topped up with sugary treats, and I curated a selection of movies and TV shows to watch each evening.

I also took advantage of this new stretch of time to focus on writing. I was busier than I thought I’d be, as I had two sets of proofreading to do – final checks for my latest book Kitted Out: Style and Youth Culture in the Second World War, and for the paperback edition of my ode to La Dolce Vita of the fifties and sixties, Roman Holiday: The Secret Life of Hollywood in Rome. I also had another book on Coco Chanel to write – a fun little guide called What Coco Chanel Can Teach You about Fashion.

It wasn’t just non-fiction. I was also up early each morning to try to finish a novel I’d been working on for the past eight years. And yes, I did finally complete it, which was a great feeling. I submitted it to some writer friends who were really kind and generous in providing feedback and suggestions, and after setting it aside for a while, I’m now at the next stage of doing extra edits and submitting it to publishers.

Lockdown for me had its emotional ups and downs. As I tried to find myself again after emotional abuse, I enjoyed the space to breathe; to put life on pause, to get fit and healthy, and to just be.