Meeting Up In A COVID World

Here in Vancouver and the suburbs, community and recreation centers have been opening in stages since early September. This is a good thing for many but as our COVID case numbers steadily rise, I’m not sure how long it will last.

As part of the re-opening process, my local community center decided to resume in-person creative writing workshops. Our community is one of the few that offered weekly classes, and they’ve been so popular over the last 30+ years that participants could sign up for either Thursday morning, Monday evening, or Saturday sessions. And then COVID came.

Currently, our community center’s offering only one five-week session on Thursday mornings, which I’m facilitating. It’s therefore my obligation to ask my six participants if they’ve travelled, feel unwell, or if they’ve knowingly been exposed to anyone with COVID. Before entering the meeting room, we are all required to wash our hands in the washroom just inside the building’s entrance.

We have four long tables. I sit at one while participants sit at either end of the other tables. As customary in these sessions, participants voluntarily read a few pages of their work aloud while we read along from a printed version. Participants hand out and collect their own copies.

So far, we’ve met just once but the system worked well. The question is will we be able to keep it up for the remaining four sessions? If the number of COVID cases rise exponentially, the community centers will be shut down.

The thing is that those who attend these workshops (over half are seniors) do so as much for the social interaction as they do for the critique. Not everyone likes screens. Not everyone works productively when they feel isolated. Introverted as many of us are, we still need to feel part of a community and nothing demonstrates this better than in-person meetups.

Meanwhile, many larger writing events are still being conducted online in our area. I’m not sure how well attended they are and I don’t know if authors are selling any books. I hope they are but something tells me we’re in for a few more rough months. I also know that things will get better and that the best I can do is to keep writing and reading and leaning and improving. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a new Casey Holland mystery ready for release and can actually hold an in-person launch. Won’t we all be ready for a party by then?

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

10 thoughts on “Meeting Up In A COVID World”

  1. Fantastic that you’ve been able to get back to face-to-face meetings. Here in Fredericton where we’ve been blessed – so far – by few cases, there are very few large public rooms ready to open the doors except through very special arrangement. Our reading group started up for monthly mtgs, but only because one of our members is in an apt bldg willing to let us use their social room (masks, socially distanced, no food or drink, and wiping down everything before leaving). You’re right, it makes a difference. Our philosophy group meets weekly, and we found a location similar to yours in our Arts Centre. It is much better than all by Zoom, as we had done in the spring. But we’re only meeting in person every two weeks and by Zoom in the alternate weeks because of rent! Maybe this is a good option for being prepared for a future lockdown! Meeting weekly for a writing clinic would be a real treat. Enjoy!

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  2. I’m glad this is working out for you. Our writers’ group has been meeting in person weekly since July and it is working out well. So nice to see people again even though we have to distance ourselves. No hugging! We are back to being limited to ten but not everyone comes so it has been OK.

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  3. Thanks for letting me know how the writing group works. I thought long and hard about joining, but with numbers rising rather than decreasing I decided to err on the side of caution even though I’m aching to be back in contact with everyone.

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