The Southern Peninsula U3A Writers Group has always met up twice a month to read and discuss stories that members have written on a variety of subjects. As the global pandemic approached Australia, a decision was made that members should keep a journal of what the pandemic meant to them. As the lockdown continued, the idea formed that perhaps they should think about sharing their writing with a broader audience. Just like that, 2020: A Year Like No Other came to fruition.
Members sprang into action, with Penny Liddiard taking over the trying task of editing and formulating the layout, with the priceless assistance of her son, Adam. The momentum continued as Sue Brown ventured out during the short break in restrictions to capture a series of chilly winter photographs to grace the book’s pages. Southern Peninsula U3A president Margaret Green was highly supportive of the project, and with the support of the committee agreed to sponsor the printing. Soon enough, the dream became a reality.
Pens and keyboards assisted members in keeping busy while providing a chance to share their stories of strength, revealing their vulnerabilities and survival tips to plod along through isolation – not just with each other at their regular meetings, but with their family, friends and community. Throughout these unusual times, some members kept a journal specifically for the project, while others chose to take excerpts from their private diaries to add to the book.
Readers of 2020: A Year Like No Other will be immersed in the thoughts and feelings of the writers through poetry, prose and stories. Recording the ups and downs of this extraordinary year was originally intended just for the members and their families, but the success of the book so far has encouraged the group to think outside the circle in an effort to promote the U3A to the wider community.
“The whole year has stretched us in many ways, such as changing our meetings to a Zoom format, where we had to learn the protocols as well as the mechanics,” said Sue. “Adam patiently led us through the vagaries of formatting a book and working together as a team on the project rather than our individual pieces. Then my grandchildren taught me to video the excerpts of the book and upload them to YouTube – it certainly was a year like no other.”
The book will be circulating within the community, with copies available at libraries as well as at the U3A office. To get a snapshot of the contents of book, visit the community Mount Martha TV channel on YouTube or head to https://youtu.be/UJc-34BP6vw