I miss fast writing. Not panicked typing, but cautiously frenzied word-crafting after the Sun has set. Unlike at the beginning of lockdown, there is, now, a library I can go to late at night, but I cannot wander it and become as loose as the disparate data and texts I am trying to string together in my work. Back during my undergraduate years, the actual hours spent writing in the library was minimal, too much time was taken up with my neurons digesting themselves into novel illusions to keep me entertained.

I wrote, then, in bursts. Days and days would go by where my output was only small notes and fragments, ideas that have long since been forgotten, and conversations. Meandering discourses that ranged from five minutes to hours in living rooms and hallways provided kindling for the text that would eventually leave my fingers. I had a convincing sense of living a word-based culture there, living seemingly immersed in concepts, models, and ideas. I had a set space — two buildings, distinct against their surroundings and always perfectly lit to keep one awake — where I could write and create. I would write for several hours, almost exclusively in the evenings and nights, chewing through what I had written, and often simply reflecting on everything but the words I was writing themselves.

I miss that style of writing. Various attempts over lockdown to create an artificial nine to five have simply resulted in me continuing to work in bursts as the Sun sets, but with a body tired from trying to extrapolate medical statistics and the floating sensation that comes with feeling like there’s something more important I could be doing all day. I miss fast writing, I miss producing texts that people — to my continual surprise — decided deserved a good “grade” in a matter of days or weeks, rather than weeks or months. Covid has slowed down writing. Perhaps it will speed up again, as my life speeds up through vaccination and later flow testing. Or, perhaps I will write the last draft of my thesis tired from the floating sensation.

Thomas Sullivan is an anthropologist of esotericism.