Connecting to Creative Communities in Virtual Times

Creative communities are resilient. Though things continue to change every day people are still creating. Those creations have taken many forms such as online plays, Zoom reunions of our favorite TV show casts, and countless projects that people have taken up to try and beat the quarantine blues. For some people the most challenging part of continuing to be creative during COVID has been the isolation. Many artists are used to collaborating and having others to bounce ideas off of -- and that’s the case for arts that are traditionally thought of as solo endeavors too.

As a writer, I usually work alone, but the opportunity to get inspiration from all of the things I was doing in my life and connect with other writers in person was quintessential to my creative process. It’s been more difficult to drum up motivation to write without my fellow writers by my side, but I’ve also had new opportunities presented throughout the pandemic that have helped me get through. Before Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to attend YALLWrite, an “online festival for readers, writers, illustrators & storytellers to stay connected and inspired despite our social distance.”

Usually, this festival takes place in person in Charleston, South Carolina mid-November and is the largest young adult book festival in the world. And while everyone is yearning to go back to in-person life and fun events such as this one, there have been many unexpected benefits to making events like this go virtual. The exclusivity of these festivals have been removed and with just a laptop and internet connection anyone can attend. I logged on to panels with some of my favorite authors from the comfort of my bed in Orange, California with a cup of tea in hand and a pen for writing notes in the other. I was able to ask questions to these authors, learn about their writing process, and get tips and tricks from venerated best sellers. Not only that, but it felt amazing to connect with the writing community again. I had renewed writing vigor and with the advice that the authors were providing I had a new outlook on my stories.

Lucky for all of you that all of these sessions were recorded and are now available on YouTube! All twenty-one panels are up and range from topics like Writing as a Political Act to Queering Everything to The Story Corpse. I’ve already gone back and watched the panels I missed and shared them with all of my writer friends who have been raving about them. Whether you’re a reader and want to fangirl over your listening to your favorite authors talk or a writer looking for some much needed inspiration I’d recommend looking here first. And if you’re looking for inspiration in a different field, try Googling festivals and panels on something you’re interested in, or scan Instagram for Lives to see if there’s anything out there for you -- and share it with us in the comments!

Here are some of my favorite talks from the weekend, but explore all of them here!

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