What a year it was. Like so many other people, families and groups who were used to meeting in public places (inside or out), we were suddenly faced with the question of how to keep meeting under the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. There was a seismic shift towards the use of Zoom technology as the primary way of continuing to meet safely online. Some of us were already familiar and comfortable with video/audio conferencing while for others it involved acquiring new skill sets (social and technical). Kit (President) very kindly agreed to purchase it rather than rely on the free version, which often throws everyone out of the meeting after about forty minutes.
We launched our first Zoom meeting on Saturday, April 18th 2020 after a slight hiatus (the previous meeting having been held in the Eau Gallie Library on February 22nd, 2020). Teething troubles were minor; consisting only of whether or not we could change our background (from our ‘boring’ interiors to an exotic beach or even outer space) or remember to hit our mute buttons when someone else was talking. Some members have said they prefer this method of meeting together for its convenience (you don’t have to leave home and you can cunningly disguise the fact that you may still be wearing your pyjamas) but I think most of us miss the coffee, the Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Gloria’s home baking and the conviviality. The experience of hugging someone warmly whilst looking at their face is an irreplaceable tactile feeling that generates communal joy. The consensus is that Zoom is an excellent substitute for physical meetings but it is still that – a substitute.
Attendance at the Zoom meetings has been good and the readings have been of a consistently high standard. David Clarke introduced us to his novel: From Dove Creek To Who Knows Where and Lou Kicha tantalized us with extracts from his upcoming novel: Girls Don’t Play with Dinosaurs (working title). Kay Williams and Linda Paul took us into the realm of musicals and songs; Kay sang her musical to us and Linda played the ukulele as an accompaniment to her poetry. Mac entertained us with his nostalgic, autobiographical tales of life in Florida and the Keys, on a motorbike, whilst Norm wove magical spells with his evocative and deeply personal poetry. This, of course, is just a sample of the many fine works that were presented for opinion and feedback. On average, twelve readers present their work each month across two meetings and some of them read four or five poems – so a lot of writing has been presented to the group and enjoyed. Criticism is, as always, constructive and helpful without being unkind.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it has been a productive and exciting year for the Scribblers of Brevard. We launched our anthology (XXXIX) and an associated writing competition – with a deadline of April 1st 2021 (see the menu to link to details of those) – and there have been several publications. Lou Kicha published Permafrost Rising on Amazon (see the previous blog for details); Peggy Insular published Waiting Rooms also on Amazon and Scott Tilley published his collection of writings on the theme of the virus, entitled Pandemic (also on Amazon). Several members had contributions included in this book, including Nancy Clarke (I Had To); Anne-Marie Derouault (Borders); Nicholas Kaplan (What New Normal); Carolyn Newby (A Most Unusual Year) and Scott Tilley (Covid-19).
In the pipeline: we are planning to launch our own You Tube channel that will feature audio recordings of our work, accompanied by music, backdrops or even video. We also plan to publish a collection of Christmas-themed Mini-Sagas (fifty words) and a collection of Tributes to Our Mothers for Mother’s Day. Scott Tilley has put a call out for work on the theme of ‘what next after the pandemic’ – aptly entitled Aftermath and several members will undoubtedly contribute to that.
It’s been a year. We start 2021 full of optimism. The vaccination programme has started. We have a new president and a change of ideology in the government. We are starting to make tentative plans for holidays and trips to see loved ones, friends and family. Maybe these longed-for events can take place in late summer or autumn. All of this hope and anticipation provides us with plenty of stimulus for writing projects. So now that we have turned our back on 2020 and look forward to the rest of 2021, let’s keep writing and sharing our efforts – the pleasures and the frustrations of writing!
We extend a warm welcome to old, lapsed and new members. Please use our contact page if you would like to find out more about us and sample one or two of our Zoom meetings before joining us. You will find us to be a very friendly bunch of people with one common interest and lots of other interesting talents and skills too. Our next Zoom meeting will be on Saturday January 23rd, 2021 at 9.30 a.m. for chat and 10.00 a.m. for readings. All details are on our contact page (there’s a link in the menu if you surf away from this news blog page).