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CREATE: My Pandemic Story – Hayleigh

Then I received some news… My friend Sylvia, who I met at the University of Glasgow whilst completing a Doctorate, had started her own publishing house.
Black and white photo of the head and shoulders of a white woman sat in a chair looking to the left. Her hair in a high ponytail

Hayleigh’s Pandemic Story

In the fifth of the CREATE series of articles, Hayleigh tells us about the exciting opportunities that helped her redirect the initial signposts at the start of lockdown; pointing towards doom, uncertainty and isolation. Hayleigh share show she published her debut novel and created a Charity Anthology featuring 65 stories and poems

Seven months ago, the nation went into lockdown and I, like so many others, began shielding. Even today switching on the news can feel as though we are stepping foot into unchartered territory with signposts pointing towards doom, uncertainty and isolation. Looking back, it seemed unlikely that anything positive or productive could possibly come out of the pandemic – other than Thursday night clapping, rainbows appearing in windows and getting a sneak preview of celebrities’ houses on TV. 

Then I received some news… My friend Sylvia, who I met at the University of Glasgow whilst completing a Doctorate, had started her own publishing house. She offered me the opportunity to publish my debut novel, Girl of the Ashes, which would be released early October (more on this later).

During our chats we also realised that between us we knew enough writers to create a charity anthology – one which could contribute something positive to our frontline workers. We decided early on that all proceeds would be donated to The Ambulance Staff Charity who offer emotional, financial and community support to ambulance workers (past and present) and their families. Over the course of three weeks, we collated, edited and published Stories from Home through Amazon and Kindle, offering thrillers, comedies and poetry to readers around the world. By the time the anthology was completed it was full of works by writers spanning the UK, USA and Scandinavia and featured 65 stories and poems.

But there wasn’t time to rest…

Illustration - Black text with white outline 'GIRL OF THE ASHES' at the top on a background of orange at the top fading to purple at the bottom with a black filled shape of a woman. The bottom in white is Hayley Barclay

A few months later and I was preparing for the launch of my Gothic fantasy novel, Girl of the Ashes. The story, bursting with vampires, action and mystery, features disabled, LGBT and multi-cultural characters who bring to life an alternative Victorian Scotland. Over the course of lockdown, the plans for releasing the book took numerous turns including – but not limited to – planning a face-to-face book launch in Waterstones, having a garden party with friends and family, and finally hosting the launch online.

Thank the gods for Zoom! Suddenly I was able to connect with friends from America and beyond to share this once in a lifetime moment – you only get one 15 minutes of fame after all. With a mixture of quizzes and competitions the night flew by and for a brief couple of hours our little group felt more connected.

Hopefully over the next couple of months the world will start to resemble some sort of normality. In the meantime, we keep going and try to find the little positives that occur along the way. Whether that be meeting new friends through Pathfinders or fulfilling a lifelong ambition of publishing a book, we will reach the finishing line together. Who knows what we will be doing this time next year – perhaps we’ll actually get to meet face to face or one of us will become Prime Minister – but this year, we’ve adapted, pulled together and done our best. It’s what we do.

Have you enjoyed reading Hayleigh’s Pandemic Story? Check out some of our other stories in the same CREATE series: Sarah’s Pandemic Story

What is your pandemic story? Tell us about what you’ve created during Covid 19, and how it’s made you feel.

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