Very swiftly, everything changed. A global pandemic has emerged over the last few months and shaken the foundations of countries across the world. Everyone has felt the impact. Everyday life continues to change and evolve as time passes. What was the norm last month or a week ago or a day ago may be dramatically different today or tomorrow.
The big economic and societal changes are also shaking up the writing and book world. Libraries are shuttered, book release events are canceled or retooled, and major publishers and distributors are pushing out release dates in hopes of salvaging print book revenue. Small to medium bookstores are struggling and major retail chains like Barnes and Noble and Powell's have closed their doors to the public. Everyone is subsisting almost entirely online now.
Students. Entire workforces. Almost the whole damn country is struggling to maintain social constructs via the internet as we've been faced with building and public space closures, social distancing, sheltering in place, and all sorts of phrases that only recently in the last few months made their way into common usage.
These changes have absolutely impacted my personal writing plans, as I'm sure they've fractured yours. We are not alone if having to adjust our lives, our way of thinking, and our priorities.
But some of the beauty of this change is that much can be shifted from the in-person format to the digital realm without having to sacrifice the content. There is valid loss to the human connection inherent in conferences and workshops, but that's the sacrifice we have to make right now.
Yes, video chatting services are awkward and technology sucks and we sometimes talk over one another and everything is tough, but I've personally found a lot of comfort in both the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and the ebook publishing platform Smashwords stepping up to the plate.
In a time where so many are financially hurting, they are offering free digital writing workshops for their members and published authors. They have given me, and maybe you too, something to look forward to in a future that has dramatically reeled into uncertain territory. I had plans for my graduation and post-graduation life. I had plans to attend conferences in-person and create print and audiobooks.
Many things are now on indefinite hold. Except these awesome free workshops that are going to fill my April and provide me with much needed inspiration and information. Maybe like me, you all just need something to look forward to.
I also discovered recently that the opportunity for a manuscript evaluation through SCBWI is still available and that sparked some hope in my chest. Sure, maybe almost everything has been postponed or rescheduled or cancelled.
But I'm clinging to these little nuggets of workshop shaped hope where I can find them. Maybe you can too.
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.