Ready, Set ... Uh, Go? (Mary Strand)

This month we’re blogging at YA Outside the Lines about “back to life,” which is like “back to school,” but even less fun.

That was sort of a joke, but after six months of COVID-19, not really.


I’m not going back to school ... except for my ongoing Zoom guitar lessons, for which my teachers deserve combat pay. As I write this, my daughter is flying back to Boston for her junior year of college, whatever that turns out to be in this pandemic world of ours. Aside from begging her to take a selfie from her in-apartment quarantine tomorrow on her first day of classes, though, back to school is no longer a big deal once your kidlets are off at college, except that you have fewer people complaining that there’s no decent food in the house. Which, okay, there maybe isn’t.

But it’s September 1 (as I write this), and September 1 has always been my true “Happy New Year,” filled with resolutions and plans and hopes and dreams and all that good stuff. (January 1, being winter in Minnesota, doesn’t do much to inspire me.)

This year, the arrival of September means that we’ve been in a pandemic for six months, under quarantine for the first couple of months, and not much better than being under quarantine for the months that followed.

Except for songs, I haven’t written in six months. And writing novels is what I do.

It shouldn’t be a shock, really. I realized last week that I’ve been depressed for six months, and I write funny books. (In my opinion. ha ha.) Being me — which means someone who lives life at full tilt — I’ve been throwing myself into everything I could think of during the last six months (or, actually, the few things still allowed in this pandemic world), figuring that constant activity would fix what ailed me.

Hot tip: it didn’t. As a total extrovert in a world that’s now made almost exclusively for introverts, I’ve been circling the drain.


Seriously, I always give myself a do-over in September. Always, always, always. This year, it means it’s time to go back to living again. Time to reclaim my life. Tra la la.

In other words, it’s time to write. And to quit feeling miserable pretty much every moment that I’m not working out (God bless The Firm in Minneapolis!) or listening to live music (OH WAIT! NO LIVE MUSIC!) or traveling (OH WAIT! NO TRAVELING!) or hanging out with friends (OH WAIT! ALMOST NO ONE HANGS OUT ANYMORE!).

So, yeah. TODAY, despite the fact that nothing has changed, I’ll start writing novels again. TODAY. Because I’m a novelist, and I write novels, and they’re even pretty decent. Yep, I have no game plan except for that: I’m going to start writing again, and I’m going to somehow make it funny. TODAY.

Or certainly sometime this week.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at


  1. I am totally with you on September feeling like a new year!!

  2. I find your memes motivating. And I've always felt like September is a time for new beginnings!

    1. If I worked as hard on writing as I did on finding the right memes... :-)


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