Writing Together, Apart

Writing Together, Apart

Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

Good morning! What a fortnight it has been. The news is insane, isn’t it? I’m not going to talk about it here. Instead, I’m going to talk about something that I did a couple of weeks ago that brought me joy.

I am a member of my local SFF writing community here in Ottawa (Canada, just to be clear). Thanks to the raging pandemic, we did not have our annual gathering of incredible minds and imaginations that is Ottawa’s own Can*Con. I find the press and bustle of people incredibly stressful, but this convention is always so enjoyable, I risk a panic attack every year just to attend. I love it.

Thankfully, the organizers of Can*Con haven’t left us entirely floundering in the dark. They are live-streaming incredibly thoughtful panels on YouTube every so often (by the by, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel here), and the Facebook group is pretty active with articles and sometimes even book recommendations.

Our humble little community is genuinely lovely to be a part of. I’m terribly glad for it. One of my favourite things, though, is something that I’ve only done once thus far, that the organizers of Can*Con has set up for its members.

Image by Samuel F. Johanns from Pixabay

They’ve created a genuine convention space online. It’s the weirdest, and also coolest thing I’ve seen. It’s a single page you can go to in your browser with multiple rooms. You just click and drag your avatar to whichever room you want to go to, and there you are.

If you want to join any particular group in that room, you just click and drag your avatar to touch the avatar of whomever you want to join, and voilà, you’ve joined the group. Once there, you can have a video conference and chat, or do whatever it is that room was reserved for.

In my case, the room I attended was specifically for writing. It was, in essence, a mimicry of a bunch of writers heading to a cafe to sit in a big circle, enjoy coffee, and each other’s silent company while writing for a couple of hours.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Now it wasn’t a perfect facsimile, of course. The presence of other people was missing; the smell of various beverages, the sounds of folks chatting, of drinks being made and served, the clink of dishes and, perhaps most of all, the sound of many keyboards clicking and pens scratching all at once as writers pour their souls onto the page.

Still, I had my tea, and we all chatted for a bit (and some of us slacked off by using the chat function so we could continue chatting without disturbing the flow of the other writers), and then we settled in to write. And… it was genuinely lovely.

Part of it, of course, is that the folks I wrote with are all lovely, and I haven’t seen them in a long while. I enjoy their company and seeing them again did good things for my heart. Normally I see them at Can*Con, which didn’t happen this year. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until they were there on my screen.

The greater part of my enjoyment, though, is that it so well mimicked a bunch of writers sitting in mutually enjoyable silence together, writing. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done that, and that’s just not because of the pandemic. A mix of no time, no funds for extraneous purchases like coffee, and no laptop for a number of years made meeting up with writers in coffee shops just for the sake of writing impossible.

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

This experience was quite novel for me, and really very lovely. I highly recommend finding a way for folks who are missing their writerly companions and writing sessions to find a way to do it. I also think that those who’ve never been with a group of folks who gather just to sit quietly and write together ought to give it a go (it was odd, at first. I felt weirdly exposed with a camera pointed at my face while I wrote, but that feeling quickly vanished).

Any online forum would do, but the one the fantastic folks at Can*Con set up was called Wonder. It’s free, I think. And it was an entirely lovely, less lonely way to spend a couple of hours writing.

I highly recommend it.

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her most recent titles include ‘Daughters of Britain’ and ‘Skylark.’ www.smcarriere.com

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