Quarantine Story Time

Lots of people are posting Coronavirus thought pieces.  This is not that.  Far from being a post on politics and infectious diseases, I felt motivated to write about the wonderful things you can do with the extra time we have during self-isolation – even if the reasons for it suck.

This is an excellent time to invest in the arts.  I use the word “invest” very loosely.  But while we find ourselves at home more and indeed unable to go out, that means more time.  I had been to the movie theater nine times so far this year when the unfortunate circumstances of COVID-19 hit.  We’re also unable to go to church in a physical capacity.  I also can’t go to our gym.  That right there is a lot more time at home, folks.  And while the loss of those things is sad, here’s a good thought – regardless of why I have this time, how can I use it?

And if you’re like me, a person passionate about story and culture, and eager to invest in it, there are a wide variety of ways to do so (note: a couple of the recs below contain affiliate links):

Personal Artistry

Investment in the arts isn’t only about people who get paid.  If you believe the arts are valuable, then have at it yourself!  These are some examples of how you can do that.

  • Start drawing!  This is a hobby I recently picked up, and you can get started with basic supplies pretty cheap (see below).  I started with this YouTube lesson series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewMksAbgdBI
    • Sketch pencils: https://amzn.to/3an7beK (this is a near match for my set, which was $10 at Hobby Lobby)
    • Sketch pad: https://amzn.to/2UmhASo
  • Play music!  This is admittedly not as inexpensive as starting to draw, but still valuable, if you have the resources.  Here’s how it’s working for me personally: I played guitar in high school and college (though never in a band), and my grandfather recently passed his two guitars onto me.  During the quarantine, I got some new strings and just put them on yesterday.  It sounds terrific and I’ve been spending my time learning more about music theory and trying my hand at song writing.
  • Write a story!  Obviously this is the one that I’m most partial to, but a lot of people have stories they want to write but never get around to.  This is the time!  Write one even if it’s just to share with family and friends.

Support the Arts

I mentioned the movie theaters earlier.  Ours actually closed down permanently because of the impact of the epidemic (they had already filed bankruptcy, although they had planned to remain open until they were able to sell the theater).  This is a tough time for many in the arts.  And at the same time, I find myself with the same amount of money that I would have spent going to the theater.  Where else can I put that money?  A few possibilities might include:

  • Support someone on Patreon!  I’m on there, as are many writers, artists, podcasters, and others.
  • Back a Kickstarter!  Many crowdfund their books, short films, board games, and other creative endeavors on the platform.
  • Buy indie art!  Of course, purchasing a book or a film from a big publisher or distributor supports the industry as well, but for those that are independent, that support really goes a long way.

Other Opportunities

One of the things that has really warmed my heart throughout the epidemic has been what people do for each other.  That includes organizations and companies.  That’s a decent chunk of this section – some are providing more opportunities for exposure to art and story:

  • The MET is livestreaming select operas (in a limited time window, so you probably need to set aside the time to do them in one sitting).  My wife and I watched the first of Wagner’s Ring Cycle yesterday, which was a pretty cool experience.
  • Certain theater movies, including “The Invisible Man,” “The Way Back,” “Onward,” and “The Hunt,” are going to digital retailers early, either for a $20 purchase or a $20 rental.  That rental price is steep for one person, but also a little less than we would pay for tickets on a date night.  While I haven’t seen “The Way Back” or “The Hunt,” I have seen “The Invisible Man” and “Onward,” both of which are excellent.
  • CBS is offering its All Access streaming platform free for thirty days.  I’m mostly unfamiliar with the platform, except that it includes “Star Trek: Picard,” so there’s that.

I’d be interested to hear other ideas that aren’t listed here.  Leave them in the comments!


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