Running a Writer’s Group in a Pandemic

hide - deposit photos

About four years ago, Pat, Christopher and I sat down for lunch at the Tower Cafe, and daydreamed about what it would be like to have a local queer writer’s group. Within a couple weeks, the Queer Sacramento Authors’ Collective (QSAC) was born, and shortly after that, we had our first Milk and Cookies Reading at the Lavender Library (the milk and cookies part was totally Pat’s idea).

Over the next couple years, the group grew rapidly, gaining almost fifty members. We did six lunches a year at cafe Dantorel, four Milk and Cookies readings, and made appearances at Davis Pride, Sac Pride, Senior Pride the Rainbow Festival, and at several local bookstores too.

In February, we were gearing up for our first-ever queer book festival at the MACC Center in Rancho Cordova.

And then Covid19 smashed into us like a tsunami.

One by one, all of our 2020 in-person events were cancelled, and the group basically went into enforced dormancy for a couple months.

Then Matt Burlingame over at Outword Magazine asked if we’ consider doing an online reading – it seems the paper was running really short on events, given that everyone was locked inside their own homes.

So we said sure – I mean, how hard could it be? We’d already streamed our live events at the Library on Facebook, so it was relatively simple to switch to filming each of our readings from home.

The day arrived, and we all gathered in a FB chat and watched, nervously, as one after another of us turned on our web cams and read from our books. And it worked! There were a few minor glitches, but overall it went well, and it was really good to see everyone agin.

We did it again a couple weeks ago, and for our next one in early December, we’re gonna prerecord the whole thing (I know, fancy, right?) and add some extra stuff in-between.

We’ve also moved our bimonthly lunch over to Zoom, and this last time we braved the breakout room function, which allowed us replicate the in-person thing of being able to just talk with the few folks nearest to you at the table.

It’s not the same. And it’s not what we wanted it to be. But for now, it’s something. Some day this pandemic will be over, and we will see each other and all of you in person once again. But until that day comes, we hope you will help us keep QSAC alive by being with us online and in spirit.

It’s not easy running a writer’s group during a pandemic, but it’s do-able… and for now, that has to be enough.

Stay safe, and love to you all!

Leave a Comment