Hunkering Down

March 20, 2020
When you wake up in the morning, how long does it take you to remember COVID-19? It was a gorgeous first day of spring here in the bluegrass, but honestly, I am struggling to strike a reassuring note. Each new cancellation and closure has brought fresh pain for our community of writers—“the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”—so many of whom are part of the gig economy. Kentucky Women Writers is enriched by many older voices, the population most at risk, and we are worried about how you are faring.
I will say that I am proud to be associated with the University of Kentucky, whose administrators have been tireless in addressing the infinite logistics of ensuring safety and well-being for 30,000 students and 20,000 faculty and staff. Governor Beshear in his daily 5 p.m. press conferences is a beacon of stability, transparency, and proactive caution. So far Kentucky is “flattening the curve” for our 4.5 million population thanks to his leadership and citizens who take his directives seriously.
But so many things have been lost. Eight days ago March Madness was cancelled, and in Kentucky that’s heartbreaking for a lot of citizens, myself included. High school and college athletes at all levels are losing a precious spring season, and it doesn't fix the problem to say they'll be granted another year of eligibility, as that just decreases opportunities for other players. I previously wrote from San Antonio, where I attended one of the last uncancelled conferences, AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which even then had a severely curtailed program. I had never been to that city and particularly admired its River Walk, a product of the Works Progress Administration’s infrastructure projects that helped bring us out of the Great Depression. A shining example of the good that can come from crisis, with wise leadership.
If you are finding it difficult to do creative work in the eye of a pandemic, know that you are not alone. Perhaps it’s better to focus on less ambitious ways of being productive, for example: publicity. Poets and Writers magazine had a great interview last month with four book publicists on new ways to get your book noticed. One widespread method has become writing essays related to your theme: you’ve seen it, an article about, say, beekeeping, and at the end, an author bio something like “Jane Doe is the author of a new novel on beekeeping.” Now might be a good time to brainstorm and pitch and write some of those kinds of essays.
Our board met earlier this week by videoconference and decided to postpone some things. We will not begin online registration next month as previously stated, and our preview party is up in the air, but the conference is still planned for September 17–20, 2020. In fact most speakers and some workshops are confirmed, as you can see at these links:


We hope to begin taking registration on May 29, which is the tentative date of our preview party, and to give you peace of mind there will be a new penalty-free refund policy.
When quarantines end and social distancing is over, everyone will be hungering for conferences and community. There will be more good times like this:

Bobbie Ann Mason, Jim Gray, and Julia Johnson at KyWomenWriters2019



Meanwhile, be well, stay in touch, maybe gather some friends online for a “quarantini,” and don't hesitate to pick up the phone (859-257-2874) if you have something to share with Kentucky Women Writers.