I didn’t realize the zombie apocalypse would involve me spending day after day in my own house…
My days now consist of entertaining the dogs, cleaning and organizing the house, and washing my hands. Okay, I don’t actually wash my hands that much because I spend 90% of my waking hours in my office where I am, as far as I’m aware, safe from both viruses and mosquitoes. (I know you’re thinking: It’s April, there aren’t any mosquitoes in Colorado yet. But just like every other year of my life, they are coming for me. I just don’t know exactly when. I do, however, know that they will find me well before they find any of you.)
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has impacted my writing. For a while it was really hard to focus on anything at all. I still remember fretfully looking at the Johns Hopkins map when the total worldwide numbers were around 30k. 🙁 Things got really exciting when my sisters and I helped accelerate our high risk parents’ move to an independent living community two months ahead of schedule. Fortunately we got them moved a few days before the state stay-at-home order, and now they’re as close to bubble wrapped as we can make them.
The Golden Door has been in the works for a long, long time. It went through many strange hurdles, and holds the record for the most time it’s taken me to put together a collection from start to finish. (My goal is to never let any other anthology break this record.) The title comes from “The New Colossus,” a sonnet written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus to raise money for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Here’s the full text:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The Golden Door was inspired by events at the southern border of the U.S., but I asked the authors to think more broadly. Here’s part of the text from the call for submissions:
Show the impact on individuals—and/or the world—when a country turns away immigrants, or changes the rules so that people who immigrated to a country become forced to return to where they came from—even if they were small children at the time.
Think about events throughout history, like during WWII when the U.S. turned away a ship carrying roughly 900 Jews during WWII—254 of whom died in the Holocaust. Or the U.S. Congress rejecting a bill which would have allowed 20,000 Jewish refugee children to enter the U.S. Or Italy blocking a ship carrying immigrants from all Italian ports.
Ancient Rome welcomed a number of immigrants, but didn’t do as well with the Goths, who were instrumental in the defeat of the Roman Empire.
Other options include writing about the contributions immigrants make to a country, or how the culture changes (whether for better or worse) when migrants are allowed in a country.
My story in this collection is set in 1910 in the Pennsylvanian town that my parents grew up in, and is loosely based on both my Irish/Scottish and my Slovakian great-grandparents.
I’m hoping to use my time in lockdown to get a lot of writing done. We’ll see how that goes!
Jasper and Rosie were initially confused about why we’re home all day every day, but they quickly adapted and are taking advantage of our availability, as any good border collie would. 🙂