Creating Under Quarantine (Yeah, right.)

Like most of the other writers and illustrators I talk to these days, I am in a creative wasteland. I’m  often in a crappy mood and even take a dive into a darkness sometimes. I lack ideas, never mind motivation. I worry about the future financially, about my family. Oddly, I don’t worry too much about the virus (knock wood) because I think I’ve been smart the handful of times I’ve gone out over the past three weeks. Actually I have no idea how many weeks it has been. Feels like about seventeen. But I do second guess every cough or sneeze, even if only momentarily. Then I remind myself it is allergy season. 

Most of us work from home normally. So why does being told we must work from home make it any different? It doesn’t. Yet here I am, since even before we were first instructed to stay home, not creating much of anything. Every morning I sit in front of the computer or go back to my traditional studio with a cup of coffee, pour over the new Covid19 stats, obsess about that, the economy, and the ineptitude of the administration. Then try to draw. Or write on somedays. Typically, I’ll produce nada. 

Of course I know everyone will tell me to turn off the TV, quit reading the news, turn on some music. And I DO do that every now and then. It even helps every now and then. But when I am trying to draw or write while listening to music—or even in silence—I get a case of the lonesomes. And this is probably harder than any of the distractions listed above. 

Living alone is okay. I like it most of the time. If I want to see people, I go out and see people. Not being able to do that, or being advised not to do that is difficult. It makes you want to see people even more. I was surprised how quickly and deeply you can get lonely in this situation.

I am so thankful for social media where I can chat and laugh and keep up with others, where I can give and receive support, where I can meet others for a virtual happy hour and where it doesn’t seem like I am completely alone. Except for when it does. 

Again, I love social media and all it can do to keep us connected, to having a virtual. community, but I. Miss. People. 

Kind of a lot.

So, I’ve started making art and words and giving myself a break on what exactly I create. It doesn’t have to be the start of a new book idea. It can be whatever I want. I’m just gonna make something, for cryin’ out loud!

What I’ve ended up creating is some quarantine-ish, comic-ish kind of commentary. The one below I created a couple days ago. I like it and maybe I’ll do some more. At least it is something…

~kevan atteberry


  1. Great thoughts, Kevan! (and I love the use of color highlighting the bird -that little bit of warmth just waiting for us)
    I like your phrase “giving myself a break on what exactly I create.”
    What I find is helpful is doing some back matter -it’s not so creative, but it’s necessary one-foot-in-front-of-the-other plodding, and that warms me, a little bit.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. The odd part of the current aloneness is we’re in it together. It seems so strange to be alone–together.

  3. These weeks have been tough. A daily prayer line with friends, walks and Houseparty app has helped tremendously with not feeling so isolated.

  4. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Agree 100%!

  5. Charlotte Sheer

    Kevan, Looks like you’ve found a wonderful creative outlet, afterall. This cartoonish series of panels feels like the start of a new book project, for sure. I love it! Keep coping…and stay well!

  6. Michelle Meadows

    Kevan, I think you have the right idea — our art and words can be whatever we want whenever we want. I am all for creating whatever we feel led to create, especially in uncertain times like this.

  7. I am sending you a very empathetic cyber hug, Kevan. It’s an odd and awful kind of grief that we are going through. The fact that we are all drowning in the muck means there’s no one there to pull us out. But your heartfelt post and beautiful art put a smile on my face today. And that is something good.?

  8. Love it! Keep at it!

  9. Exactly! I keep hitting the same walls. Long-distance hugs!

  10. I think many people are feeling the emotions you’ve expressed. Thanks for sharing. Just doing that creates community and helps others know that what they’re experiencing is normal during this unusual time.

  11. I hear you, Kevan. The power of the human touch! Kisses! Cuddles! I can’t even imagine how much you’re missing your little grand-daughter. Hang in there…keep making your art. It’s so good. We’re praying for those who are lonely.

  12. Your comic is great! It brought an instant smile to my face. Thank you!!

  13. Thank you, Kevan! I completely understand your loneliness and the walls that keep popping up when I try to create. So far, I’m coming up with really bad haiku. But, hey, it’s something. We just keep showing up, eh? Keep going with what you are doing. It’s all good stuff!

  14. I have been doing the exact same things and feeling exact same way. I pulled out my art supplies just to give myself a break from all the craziness.

  15. Kevan, you’re latest illustrations are gentle and heartwarming. This is a stressful time for all of us. On a recent SCBWI video, I heard Linda Sue Park say she couldn’t write at all. I understand. At least you are creating something. And I’m trying, too.

  16. Thank you for the post. Many of us are right there with you.

  17. I like your cartoons! What a powerful message for all of us. Would you consider creating more and share them on your website?

  18. Yes. And it looks like you’ve figure out a way around not creating by creating. Good work!

  19. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal post, Kevan. Hang in there!

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