'Dispatches from a Pandemic'

The Rehoboth Beach boardwalk closed off behind barriers is symbolic of what much of early spring has been like in 2020. The changes of live during a pandemic inspired a variety of stories written by the members of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild.

In mid-April, a challenge was put forth in the weekly email sent to members of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild (RBWG) to create a collaborative essay that captured what life was like in this new world created by COVID-19.

“As a community,” RBWG Executive Director Maribeth Fischer wrote, “let’s each write, polish and submit a beautifully written, very short ‘dispatch’ (be it funny or sad or wise or resigned) that captures something of our life now.

“Some of us live in assisted-living facilities on lockdown,” Fischer went on to explain; “some of us have had children and grandchildren move in with us... and then there are the funny happenstances... I had to replace my husband’s tooth filling when it fell out last week! Another Guild member, who lives alone, dressed up the other day — dress pants, collared shirt, argyle socks and loafers, just to feel human again.”

The result of this challenge, an idea Fischer admits she stole from The New Yorker (which featured a similar essay), is “Dispatches from a Pandemic,” a document featuring 58 writers with roots in Sussex County (although RBWG members from Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; Florida; and Colorado are included as well) who share their experience of this strange new world.

The essay, published on May 15 on the RBWG website and divided into five sections, each capturing a different aspect of the pandemic (“Our Shifting Landscape,” “The Way We Live Now,” “Life on Pause,” “Remaking the World” and What Happens Next), offers a portrait of one community’s wide-ranging response to this event.

The writing, Fischer said, is at times sad (the woman whose son had to postpone his April wedding for a year), at times funny (the near miss of a “10-cart pileup” in a grocery store); but more often than not, the writing is about resilience (the drive-by birthday party; the couple who choose one song each night to dance to — something they never did before quarantine; or the newfound joy in an unscheduled life).

“Dispatches From a Pandemic” is free and available to download from the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild website (www.rehobothbeachwritersguild.com) under Events or can be accessed through this link at www.rehobothbeachwritersguild.com/dispatches-from-a-pandemic.

For more information about the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, see the website. Readers can also subscribe to the Guild’s weekly email of news, writing prompts, online tutorials and writing challenges on the home page of the website.