0719 PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

I used to go to a small writing workshop on Wednesdays. Six or eight of us met in a room at the library for a couple of hours. 

We were of different ages and writing both fiction and nonfiction, but we all listened carefully to the reader and tried to come up with helpful suggestions. 

Now, of course, we are forced to have our meeting on Zoom and it’s not the same. Not at all. 

The guy in the group who is the most technically proficient has been nice enough to set up a Zoom meeting each week and invite us all to participate. We tend to get a quorum, though the one who has a batch of children at home has the most trouble joining in. And I must admit that for me, I don’t look forward to a Zoom workshop the way I used to.

Mostly we are just reporting in on what we did in the past week. We don’t read our work and ask for suggestions. 

One of us is working on articles, one is marketing her book, one is querying agents. There is some back and forth about advertising and blogs which is helpful. However, my computer has a tendency to go silent just when things get interesting. A message pops up on the screen: “Your computer is unstable.”  As if I didn’t know!  

My granddaughter says I ought to try my laptop in different spots around the house. I’ve lugged the little thing from room to room and even taken it upstairs to my bedroom, but nothing makes it a hundred percent stable. It does its silent tricks whenever it feels like it.

Last night I was in a Zoom meeting sponsored by my church when my machine went silent. 

I tapped on the screen which sometimes solves the problem. This   time, the sound came on, but the picture disappeared. 

The people in my chat room said they could see me, but I couldn’t see anybody. This kind of thing happens to me often in Zoom meetings and is another reason I don’t enjoy them.

I know, I know. It’s the only way we can get together in a group, while the COVID-19 infection continues to rage, but I still say it’s a poor substitute for the real thing. In the same way that bumping elbows is so much less satisfactory than a big hug.

And I haven’t even mentioned what I consider to be the biggest drawback about participating in a Zoom session.  

I have to look at my own face up on the  screen.

That would be okay if I were 25 or even 50, but at 87 I try to forget what I actually look like. The  person on the screen is not the person I feel like inside and I don’t enjoy having  a constant reminder of my aged face presented to the world.  Call it misplaced vanity, which it surely is, but I  bet I’m not the only one who’d like to imagine her face still looks as it did at 30 or 40 or even 50. 

My daughter says there’s some button you can press to erase your face and still let others see you. However, old as I am, my computer skills are still in the kindergarten stage and I haven’t the vaguest idea how to find that button.

Guess I’ll continue to Zoom and to gripe and to pray that one day we can go back to meeting in person.

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