Writing in the Time of Corona

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Writing in the time of corona is different. Different precautions have to be taken. Different procedures have to be created. After all, we all want to emerge in some months (years?) on the other side of this pandemic, healthy and happy and relishing the chance to finally walk around without a mask.

These days, I’m still meeting with my writing critique partners… online. We send each other our pieces the day before we meet, and then give our feedback during our Zoom session. Is it as satisfying, as fun as meeting in person? Of course not. However, it’s the best we can do right now.

Currently I’m taking a writing class. It’s not something I normally do, but since face-to-face contact is limited these days, getting feedback and inspiration from fellow participants as well as from the instructor is something I truly appreciate. We send our weekly writing pieces to each other. We also have a site set up by the instructor where we post our feedback.

Celebrating with my writing friends is also different. Recently, I got some great news. My manuscript is getting published. If this had been September 2019 B.C. (before corona) instead September 2020, I would have bought a decorated cake from a bakery and after toasting my critique partners for all the support and help they’ve given me, I would have given them the news.

Instead, this is what I did: I went to a famous local cupcake bakery. (They won the big prize in the 2011 Food Network’s show Cupcake Wars.) I bought three special sugary creations. (I found out their favorites by telling them a lie about my students surveying people about cake flavors, and the kids needed more data. Oh, how trusting my friends are.)

Jilly's 14 Carat Cupcake... carrot cake, topped with gold glitter

I then dropped them off a couple of evenings before we had our writing critique Zoom. I told them, “Enjoy… and there’s a reason why you’re getting this cupcake… But I won’t tell you what it is until Thursday.”

I caught one of my friends as she and her husband were pulling out of their driveway. There I was, a masked woman, trying her best not to startle them as I handed off my bag of booty. (She was so used to seeing me in a small square, gridded off on her computer monitor, she almost didn’t recognize me, in-person and masked.)

Yeah, these are the days. As Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs sang: 

These are days you'll remember

Never before and never since

I promise

It’s certainly changed the way I’ve taught, too. I can’t walk around and look over students’ shoulders and praise their writing like I’d like to. I send email messages letting them know I’m bowled over by their writing. We talk about lines that sing, in whole-class discussions. And Thursday we’re walking to a nearby park and doing a writing buffet. Stories from all three classes will be fanned out on picnic tables. Usually, kids will write their comments on a story on a colorful sheet stapled to the back of the story. Then they’ll read a different piece. And a different piece. Thursday, each story will be slid into a plastic sleeve. Students will slip their comments (written on quarter-sized sheets of paper) into the plastic sleeve and behind the story. Before another student can read the same story, I'll wipe the sleeve down with a disinfectant wipe.

Yeah, these sure are the days...

Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school teacher, a dog rescuer and a freelance writer... and next year, she'll be a novelist. (Yippee yahoo!) She's also a mother of two and grammy to three and the wrangler of one enthusiastic 84-pound golden retriever.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Zoom has been a blessing and a curse. I love that I can stay in contact with my group. But I wish some of my organizations would be less eager to keep me amused and entertained with meetings. No, really. I'm cool. If I can't find anything to do, I'll go move the woodpile or something.

I'm so glad you found a way to celebrate with your writing friends! Yay!
I know they were thrilled to hear your news!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Yum, that cupcake looks delicious! A friend of mine was on Cupcake Wars, but his team didn't win. I know that competition is hard! That's nice of you to get cupcakes for everyone, instead of virtual ones. They're going to be thrilled when you break the news on Thursday. I'm super excited for you. :)

Nothing much has changed for me, since I don't have an in-person writing group. I'm taking a Zoom memoir writing workshop and often have Zoom meetings, but it's hard to get any privacy since I now share an office with my husband. My dad moved in and took over my office. I put a drape up behind me to block half the room.

Sioux the novelist. I like the sound of that! Now it's time to start building up your platform, and I want to reserve my signed copy. :)

Theresa Boedeker said...

I so enjoyed hearing about how you are doing things during this time, especially dropping off cupcakes and the writing buffet at the park. We are all having to be creative, and it helps hearing how others are doing it.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sioux, this is our new normal but you have found some great and creative ways
to connect, and share, and get through these days of living in an age of Corona. I love, love, love the idea of a writing buffet at the park with your students. I'm sure in years to come that will be a fond memory for them all.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--I HAVE noticed that--an overly-enthusiastic embrace of Zoom meetings. Perhaps it's because people are at home, they don't have to leave, so why not have a meeting?

Angela--I think you could write a whole book on how you've "adjusted" to everything life has thrown at you recently.

Platform? Is that something you stand on to look taller? ;)

You don't have to reserve a signed copy. The BKers have no choice but to get one... since without you ladies, I wouldn't be a future novelist.

Theresa--I think all writers are doing things differently these days. Thanks for stopping by.

Jeanine--Usually, my classes do our writing buffets in the classroom. However, with the big "C" wreaking havoc, doing it surrounded by fresh air is a better idea.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I feel like 2020 and the coronavirus will be one of those events that becomes a touchstone. Like, "Was that before or after Covid??" Or, "Back when we all went through the pandemic, we had to stay inside for months! So you'll go outside and you'll enjoy it!" :-)

We're resilient, though, and creative, too. Yum. Cupcakes!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Yeah, I can imagine when we're old(er), sitting on a rocking chair on our front porch and talking about back in the days when we had to deal with Covid... We have no teeth, our hair's thinning, we have more wrinkles than a sharpei...

I think I'll stop this daydream right now. ;)

Renee Roberson said...

I love the cupcake idea to boost excitement for the big announcement! I'll admit, I don't have a ton of Zoom meetings going on but when I do they are always after 8 p.m. when I'm tired and ready to put my pajamas on. Ugh! My kids, on the other hand, are with you. They'd give anything to be in their classrooms right now, getting high fives and conferencing with their teachers in person.

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