As COVID-19 has spread throughout our local community, and the nation at large, we’ve all had to severely change our daily habits. We haven’t seen our family, our friends, and our coworkers as much as we once did. We’ve sheltered in place, socially distanced ourselves, and become more physically isolated than we have at any point in our lives.
I have seen a few people on Twitter and elsewhere drawing attention to an important fact: during this time most people are turning to the arts. People are streaming films and TV shows with such hunger it’s straining the Internet’s infrastructure in Europe and elsewhere. Musicians are performing in-home streaming concerts. Painters and illustrators are posting and selling their works online.
When things are dire, we turn to the arts. We turn to the things that help us stay connected with each other even if it’s through ink on a page or pixels on a screen. The arts help us handle — or escape — everything happening right now.
This means your writing is still important.
Whether you’re writing for publication or just for yourself, those words, phrases, and paragraphs are still so, so important. If you’re working on a fantasy story it could take someone off into another world for a little while. If it’s a mystery, then you’re presenting the reader with a problem they know will get solved. If it’s a memoir, then the reader will gain an understanding about someone else’s life and perhaps know they aren’t alone. If it’s poetry, you’re demonstrating the beauty language can obtain in a perfect jewel on the page.
It all helps. Writing can help people heal in so many ways, whether it’s the author expressing themselves or the reader finding an escape or new perspective.
Now please don’t take this to mean “You. Must. Write. Now.” This isn’t intended to browbeat people into working on their project or serve as a subtle guilt trip. I have seen the tweet about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear while under quarantine. If that encourages you to produce your magnum opus, go for it! But we’re not all Shakespeare. I’m certainly not. I haven’t written anything in three weeks, and I just now feel that I can get back to my in-progress draft.
This is intended to provide a bit of perspective. Even though things are changing day by day, and we don’t really know what comes next when all this abates, one thing is certain: your writing is still important.
Your work is still important.
You as a writer are still important.
Rome Area Writers is working on ways to keep our community connected for the duration of this crisis. We’re going to acquire a Zoom account and hold both our monthly meetings and beta group meetings online. The officers and I are going to discuss what we can do going forward during these meetings, but one thing I do expect is that we’ll have a couple of online mini-workshops like what we’ve had recently.
RAW’s motto is “Writers helping writers.” We’re taking that motto to heart, and rising to this occasion, because you’re important to us.