4 minute read



A Pandemic Gift

Lockdown. You remember those early days, don’t you? How utterly strange they were, with the world around suddenly empty of traffic, honking horns, airplanes, car alarms, kids calling one another as they whizzed by on their bikes. We stockpiled toilet paper and food. We all have a story about that first week.

I had recently launched a book, The Companion, and was looking forward to traveling to writing conferences and book fests. By day three of the lockdown, I canceled the six conferences I had been scheduled to attend. Some stated they’d figure a way to move online; some were suspended to a later date. The in person writing workshop I had scheduled became… suspended. (Remember when we didn’t have to say “in person”).

I kept my spirits up. After all, I worked at home. Being alone wasn’t a worry; I was used to the solitude. My wife, a veterinarian, had an essential job and went to work as usual, which kept part of the daily routine intact. I still walked the dogs two days a week and tried to meet my word count in between.

No worries, I thought. I got this. I won’t miss the weekend workshops and meeting my friends for coffee and writing.

Except I missed them. It was as if I had become unmoored from the world, from the writers I had worked with for months and years, from friends I couldn’t hop in the car to see. I was lonely. And wandering the house kind of like a zombie. I looked from one dog to the other. We had already gone on three walks. I had just figured out I’d been wearing my mask upside down and that my glasses wouldn’t fog if I turned the damn thing around.

“This will not do, dogs,” I said, and each gave me a look of agreement. I needed to know how everyone else was fairing in this odd twilight. So I sent an email. That I wish I kept, but here’s the gist: This is weird. Anyone else want to check in? Meet me on Zoom Wednesday at 4:30. Yeah, I don’t know how to use it, either, but we’ll try.

The second week of lockdown rolled around. I figured out Zoom and on Wednesday waited to see if anyone would come. They did. I breathed a sigh–people. My people! Here, together. We were all rather glassy-eyed but managing the stiff upper lip.

“How’s the writing?” I asked.

And that day, in that strange time, Novelitics was born.

Weekly check-ins grew into a formal event, Writers Well, with rotating craft and critique discussions. People thought of writing friends they thought would like to be part of our group and invited them. I added in monthly craft and writing biz workshops. Invited guest speakers. Created a membership format with a fancy, fun web app (Mighty Networks) so we could post all things writing related to share our struggles and successes. Added a Monday- Friday morning write. Added developmental editing services. (I have to boast that several members have finished the novels that were only kernels of ideas and are submitting or have published those marvelous books.)

Together, we created a home base. A place that was safe and supportive and yet pushed each of us to be better writers. Every writer who came to that first Zoom meeting, signing in and smiling through, is still in the group.

And that, my friends, is the gift of the pandemic. For more information on Novelitics, click here. If you’re a writer and looking for a community and home base, please visit us. Click here to visit and enjoy a free month.

Have a manuscript and are looking for a developmental editor? I specialize in historical fiction, historical mysteries and thrillers, and would love to talk more about your project and how the developmental editing process works! Click here to set up a chat.