This One Time, I Had a Skype Chat with a Writing Group in Detroit

By | March 19, 2012

I have a face for podcasting (OK, and billboards, apparently). Which is fine. My Ginger and the Geek cohort, Kat Cooper can be ‘the cute one’ and I can be ‘the funny one’.¹

Still, I am always amused when I am asked to speak to groups (Girl Scout troops, grade school students, Lansing Bronies Meetups). Such an occurrence, as rare as they are, happened earlier this month. Old Pal Jeanne² (OPJ), asked if I would be willing to chat with her writing group. OPJ is a librarian in metro Detroit.

After I finished laughing, I said sure. Because, if’n there is one thing I love, it is the sound of my own voice.

“Do you want to come here?” she asked. “Otherwise, we could try Skype.”

“Skpe would be better,” I said. “I try to limit my drives to Detroit from November through March. Snow is a harsh mistress.”³

“Do you have a webcam?”

I paused. The video side of Skpe had not crossed my mind, as I only ever used the service for audio (and to join Mysterious Cities of Gold chat groups, obviously). But then the sci-fi geek in me perked up, “Hey! It’ll be like Star Trek! Or like those video phones in Viper!”†

I agreed, and the date was set.

OPJ’s writing group started as a National Novel Writing Month support group, so I had plenty to chat about. My self-published novel, The Magic of Eyri, began as a NaNoWriMo project. I shared my experiences with self-publishing and, to my surprise, I was able to keep the swearing to a minimum.

It was odd addressing a room of people in such a way. While there was about a dozen, give or take, in attendance, OPJ’s camera was limited in its coverage. But, I am very much accustomed to talking, at length, without seeing who (if anyone) is listening. The upside to podcasting, I guess.

I had to make sure the parts of my apartment visible to my webcam were tidy. I was sad to dispose of my mountain of Clif Bar wrappers, but out of context it would look rather bad (I was going to make some kind of mosaic, but who has the time?). I had thoughts of placing props in the background to impress the group (copies of Hamlet, The Iliad, and Plato’s Republic; a globe, my third-place high school bowling trophy), but I ended up playing Civilization III for too long and ran out of time.

There were also more important logistical problems, mainly: Which geeky t-shirt do I wear? (answer: This One)

The chat itself was a lot of fun, and I would be happy to do so again. In a text message after the finale, OPJ said, “They loved you!”

And the best part about a Skype chat? No one can tell if you are wearing pants.

¹ Or rather, ‘the thinks he is funny one.’

² Name changed.

³ And then we ended up having a super-hot March. It was about 80 degrees (F) on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend. Insane!

† It was like Knight Rider, but with a Dodge Viper. And it couldn’t talk. Which was the show’s greatest failing, after starring a Dodge Viper.

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Daniel J. Hogan is a geeky cartoonist and writer living in Michigan. Daniel is available for freelance writing and cartooning commissions (Contact Daniel). This post contains affiliate links, unless it doesn't.

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