Some of those have been suspended and we really miss them (especially the conferences—Malice Domestic was a highlight in my year!) or moved to a virtual format. That’s much better than not having them, and since travel and hotel expenses are eliminated, it does present an opportunity for many people to attend who otherwise would reluctantly skip them. But they are not the same.
On a more individual level, I sorely miss the in-person discussion and critique groups where I could get and give individual feedback from other interested writers. My monthly group, which has been in existence for about twelve years, used to meet for breakfast on Saturday mornings, where we would offer critiques of up to ten pages of one another’s current work. We’d email the pages prior to the meeting to facilitate the discussions, and each show up with our notes. As in any critique situation, the writer is expected to listen respectfully (and presumably consider the viewpoint presented) but not necessarily agree with it. Some comments are spot on, and others show a basic misconception of what the author is intending to do.
One of our members writes “realistic” speculative fiction. Creatures from other worlds are introduced into our society as observers. The author is meticulous in depicting the world as it exists, drawing from her own experience and presenting scenarios which reflect actual events. Oft-suggested interactions between the observer and the earthly world are politely but firmly dismissed, often without comment.
I remember the truism that other people can point out areas in a manuscript that don’t work, but only the author can fix them. While suggestions may get thoughts flowing, the solution has to come from the only person responsible for the final product. The group now communicates on-line via a Google meeting. It’s useful, but I find it lacks that immediacy and intimacy of the in-person meetings.
And I miss my raspberry crepes.
My mystery book review club met a few times over the summer, bringing lawn chairs and sitting at a distance in someone’s back yard. The usually-delightful refreshments were reduced to the handful of crackers and bits of cheese I managed to grab on my way out the door. Since the weather has turned colder, the meetings have been suspended.
My on-line contacts continue as before. I am in a long-standing Guppies critique group. Our activities wax and wane, depending upon how active we are in our individual writing lives, but we all respond promptly when something is posted. I have a few on-line individual critique partners, none of whom I have met in person. We continue in the same manner as before. Peer review, as we use it in our Writers Who Kill blog, also continues unabated. I find it hugely helpful, and, as with any critique, take some suggestions and dismiss others after I have considered them.
Have you managed to maintain or even increase your participation in writers’ activities? Do you have plans for the “after” of the pandemic restrictions?