Sarah Webb: ‘I’ve set up writing classes on Zoom for kids, but they’re also good for me’
Isolation Diaries: Children’s author is running online workshops during Covid-19 crisis
Sarah Webb: ‘I generally work from home and so does my other half, which is kind of handy. What I’m not set up for is having my teenagers around all the time.’
Sarah Webb is a children’s author as well as a writing coach and teacher. Recently on Twitter she offered to do daily “Creative Bursts”, online writing workshops for children to keep them busy during the coronavirus outbreak. Subsequently the Museum of Literature Ireland (MOLI) contacted her and commissioned her to do them on their website, moli.ie.
How’s life for her right now? “I generally work from home and so does my other half, which is kind of handy. What I’m not set up for is having my teenagers around all the time.”
She’s doing her best to keep them busy. “We’ve just walked the dog together, and much to their delight, I’m doing something creative with them every day, like showing them art I like and have them tell me how rubbish it is…. We’re also going through an 80s movies phase - The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink…”
How are they coping with the anxiety? “We’re talking about it a lot. I will ask them what they’ve read about things online, what are their friends saying and whether they think it’s true or false.”
How is she coping? She’s rationing her news intake, she says. “I get up and do my morning pages. I write for 20 minutes, and that’s sort of working out how I feel… Then I do yoga and walk the dog.”
She messages and talks to her family regularly and waves and calls out to her neighbours, but she misses the daily interactions. “I would be a very sociable person,” she says. “I am very chatty. So I’ve set up writing classes [using the video conferencing Zoom] for kids. But they’re also good for me. We do writing games and drawing games. It’s very informal. It’s also a chance for the kids to interact socially, to say, ‘My brother is annoying me and my mum won’t let me do this.’”
She has lost a lot of work due to the shut down, she says, which is why it was great when MOLI stepped in and said they’d pay her to do the “creative bursts” and host them on their website. She’s hopeful that libraries and other art institutions will follow their example and hire artists, musicians and writers to produce work and teach online.
How are the children in her Zoom class dealing with it all? “They are really upbeat, surprisingly. There are one or two little worriers, but I’ve encouraged them all to keep a diary of what’s happening and those are really funny. It’s a tonic for the heart, really.”
This is part of a series of Isolation Diaries interviews with well-known people in isolation around Ireland by Patrick Freyne.