COVID-19 days and nights continue and so do a lot of changes. For those of you (writers and others) who think that we writers just write in isolation anyway and can continue to do so, think again.
Writing isn’t just about writing. You have to market your little written darlings to get published, and if a book, promote it.
Before all that you might want (and need) some feedback on your writing-in-the-works. And if you have been attending in-person writing groups, you just can’t do that anymore – or at least for nowthanks to COVID-19. And for me, to add insult to injury (pardon the cliché, but a cliché is well, normal in these definitely non-normal times), the writing group I founded and still run, East End Writers’ Group, is supposed to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. We had lots scheduled and being prepared for this year.
Then, thanks COVID-19, things were cancelled. Public venues were closed, including the libraries and we were meeting at the S. Walter Stewart library branch in Toronto since July 2014. Before that we were meeting for a few months in a used book store until it closed; before that in a café which closed too; before that for 17 years in my tiny bungalow. The latter is not an option now, especially with COVID-19 and doing the self-isolation bit until who knows when. Also, even without COVID-19, I don’t want meetings in my house anymore. Too much work.
So enter online.
Like many writing groups (and other groups, including my gardening club), we have zoomed into Zoom. I probably don’t need to tell anybody what this is, although how it works, is something else. Both my son, Martin (the IT guy) and a retired IT guy, Nick, who belongs to East End Writers’ Group suggested Zoom and although I haven’t too many clues about how it works (I’m improving with their help), I’m enthused about using Zoom and grateful they came up with the suggestion, and grateful that Nick is doing all the technical stuff to get the meetings going and creating the invitations for members. I am sending out the invitations, so not sitting on my laurels (cliché). So, I like to say, Nick hosts the session and I moderate it. In our two hours or so we have time for four members to each read a poem or two or a short prose excerpt and then after each author reads, it is my turn to lead a discussion and everybody else (and me, too) to give constructive feedback. At the end of our last Zoom meeting (we are meeting every two weeks) the diehards who stayed behind after all the feedback was finished, got into a discussion of how COVID-19 is affecting our writing. The consensus was it is causing us to be distracted and not get as much writing done as we would usually do.
As for the East End Writers’ 20th anniversary celebrations, that too has gone online. Earlier in May, novelist Shane Joseph, who is one of the EEWG’s original members and I were guests on Liquid Lunch on thatchannel the online TV station where I tape my Crime Beat Confidential Show. Liquid Lunch’s host, Hugh Reilly, interviewed Shane and I (remotely – he was in the studio and Shane and I were in our respective homes and coincidentally in our respective offices. Maybe some underlying wish that it will inspire our writing?) to tape the show. The episode is on You Tube now and also you can get to it via thatchannel. Shane and I talk about the early days of East End Writers’ Group. But pay attention to the last part and what we talk about. You can probably guess. Note: as we are isolated, we are not wearing masks, but Hugh is wearing his trademark toque.