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Lock and overload!

Author Natalie Reeves-Billing talks about the fears of her Facebook live appearances, and the competitive and strange nature of lockdown publishing and promotion.

If you thought the pre-corona world was busy, you'd were totally unprepared for this!!

In just a few short months, our lives have changed so dramatically, it’s almost impossible to remember them. It's undoubtedly highlighted areas of my skillset that need serious attention.

One being, prioritising the barrage of data. From the moment I open my sleep weary eyes until I force them to shut again, a woodpecker sits on my shoulder. Drilling its beak into my temple, begging for an audience.

The second is the incessant switching of heads as I test my ability to multitask to the max.

Ok, so point one. Let’s go back a few weeks, to a time when the mere idea of Facebook Live made me quiver in my pants. The thought of an unedited, unrewindable thing that, once seen, can never be unseen, filled me with an egotistical dread. But that was when my hair was all the same colour, and my eyelashes created tsunamis whenever I blinked.

Now, us night robe-wearing, teacup bearing, secret sharing tech-savvy aficionados are taking to the camera like we were born to it. And that's got to be a good thing, right? Breaking down those fears we had about perception. The very idea that kept us down.

But with every up, there will be a down. And with more people hitting the record button, we are struggling to stay visible through this blip. There is too much content. Too much stuff vying for our attention. Sometimes, it's hard to breathe. How can we possibly fit all these things in? My diary is gathering dust, and yet, I've never needed it more. I'm feeling my way around this lockdown labyrinth waiting for a monster to jump out.

Haphazard. That's the word that comes to mind. My brain is suited for a much gentler sort of life. One of forest fairies and journeys to distant planets. It is a vibrant, soft, fluffy ball of wool, interlocking, and twisted. Each strand is something I must do. Each knot, a problem I must solve.

These days, everything is so real. I need to knit something different. Something that can cushion me from the harsh realities of my self-doubt. The anxiety and worry. Reshape into a warrior woman, capable of anything. The woman who was always there, hiding in the shadows, waiting for the apocalypse to set her free.

To compete in this new arena while also being mindful of not squandering my life's savings, I must become self-sufficient. Be a Jacky of all trades. Join networking groups, look for PR hacks, learn how to market me. Presenting this lump of unprepared meat to a world that scares the crackers out of me. Stepping up and shouting from the rooftops, why it is me that people should follow, like, retweet, write about, and buy me. There's no more time for self-conscious thought. Come to the forefront or wilt away. I've chosen to thrive.

Well, at least I'm trying… But that leads me to point two.

Hi, my name is Natalie Reeves Billing. I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, author, social entrepreneur, educator, child carer, cook, cleaner, secretary, accountant, marketing expert, counsellor, event planner, strategist, gardener, nurse. Pleased to meet you.

I've got more jobs than Mrs. Rabbit, and I should be proud. If I had time, I would be.

Just think, not long ago, we had this amazing, precious, intangible yet fleeting thing. I never truly appreciated it then. I never used it the way I should. I squandered it. I took it for granted.

Time. So simple, but there it is.

Our most valuable commodity. It ticks on with no care for the bits we've missed, and the summer we lost. The birthdays we spent alone. The friendships that stagnated. The holidays we paid for. The weddings we cancelled. We must bear those disappointments because it's vulgar to do otherwise. There are people much worse off than me. I must hold on to it. Power through, switching and swapping my heads more times than a Robloxian avatar. That I know what that term means only demonstrates my point.

To be all that I want to be, I've had to lower my expectations of my children and of myself. iPad usage keeps me sane. Roblox has held the threads of my sanity together many, many times. I take back everything I once said about it. About TV. About X Box. In this world, for me anyway, there is certainly a place for it.

Without, I would never get to see core pieces of myself. The writer. The friend. The poet. For now, there has to be an element of façade. Still, by giving up everything I am, I can only imagine what emotional turmoil would follow. I cling to the fragments of old me, waiting for the world to kick back in. For schools and clubs to re-open. For dentists, doctors, bars, and salons to be safe again.

And oh, what a joyous day it will be. I will open my windows and launch the educator, the nurse, the gardener, the cleaner, straight out of it, and pray never to see them again. Exorcise my mind of the intruders that have hijacked my life. May they never again darken my path.

When we get off the coronacoaster, I will not take anything for granted. I will heal and simplify. We've been given a rare gift. It may not seem like it, but we are standing on the edge of a brave new world.

We have walked through adversity and been brought to our knees. Humbled by the forces of nature. We know our place. We will work with the bounty the world has given us. Protect and preserve it. Life after Lockdown can be whatever we make it.

Let's not belittle the sacrifices that have been made. The world now has a fighting chance, that only catastrophe could provide.

'Ben and the Bug' is available to buy on Amazon Follow Natalie on Instagram and Facebook for more updates.

Natalie Reeves-Billing is a Liverpool-based author with a focus on children's books. Follow us on Facebook for regular updates on her books and other projects.

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