The Best Thing that Happened to Me during the Pandemic
By Meliha Avdic
[Meliha Avdic was born in Bosnia but now lives in London.
She joined Hawaii Writers Guild in November 2020.]
For many people, the COVID 19 pandemic was the first time their government told them to stay indoors. As a war child, I am not one of those people. I remember clearly the sirens that indicated that we must seek shelter in an enclosed space. However, the COVID 19 lockdown was very different. We didn’t have to stay in the dusty, smelly, dark basement that acted as a shelter, we had food, water, and electricity.
I remember joking with my friends that something felt weird as we sat in our homes, eating popcorn and watching TV. This is not how we thought the lockdown would go. I’m not sure what we expected, but it felt strange to be in lockdown, yet have all that comfort.
While I was watching TV, which seemed mandatory at the time, an episode of Hawaii 5-0 came on. I loved the characters, I loved the scenery, I was inspired. A story was already created in my mind. I sat down and started writing what I thought would be a short fan-fiction story. It was supposed to be only about 4000-5000 words long. But, as I wrote, 80, 000 words simply appeared. I really liked the story. I knew I’d have to change a lot of stuff to make it just mine, and I was willing to do that.
The first problem was that I didn’t know anything about Hawaii. I could find it on the map, but that was about it. Clearly, that’s not enough to write a book set in Hawaii. I needed some kind of connection to reality, so I googled “Writers in Hawaii”. HWG popped up in the search.
A couple of emails later I was a very excited new member calculating the time difference and realizing that I would have a lot of sleepless nights since the time difference between Bosnia, where I lived then, and Hawaii was 12 hours. But the idea of socializing with writers on the other side of the globe was far too delicious to miss. Staying up all night and having a meeting at two o’clock in the morning seemed like a piece of cake considering the benefits and gains.
The first time I told my friend about my meeting with Hawaii writers she screamed and said “you’re not!” I said that I was. Since then, my meetings with Hawaii are the first thing my friends ask about. I feel so blessed and honored to have been accepted into this group of great writers and wonderful people.
I am still working on my book, even though it has been published. I trusted a publisher I shouldn’t have trusted, but these things happen. Lesson learned. Now I will get it into even better shape with help from my writer-friends in Hawaii, and probably self-publish it. It may not sound like much, but it means the world to me.
Just a few days ago we had a meeting, I read a part of the book to them and had such amazing feedback, I am still buzzing with energy.
Now, I can’t imagine leaving the Guild. I’m starting to understand the ohana and aloha concepts, which is wonderful, and it will be very useful in the second volume of my book. Yes, while I edit the first volume, I am also writing the second volume – this is what being motivated and inspired does to a writer. So, all I can say is thank you to everyone at the Hawaii Writer’s Guild for accepting me. I hope we will be friends for many years to come.
[Now that Meliha lives in London, the time difference is only 11 hours, and when London goes off of daylight savings time, it will only be 10 hours! Depending which Readings and Responses group Meliha attends, she might only have to stay up very late—instead of getting up in the middle of the night!
To find out more about Meliha, check out her author’s bio on our website. (Although her legal name is Meliha Bajramovic, her father’s last name, Meliha says: “I use my mum's surname, Avdic, on my books, just as a small recognition. She raised the three of us on her own, yet all my accomplishments are in my father's surname. It came to me when I was being given my Master's diploma. My mum sat proudly watching it, while my father didn't even know about it. In short Avdic is like my pen-name.”) You can also check out “Meliha’s page” here.]