Last night I ran my first Zoom meeting for the screen writing group I belong too. The members of the group that could make it really liked the on line meeting.

Before Using Zoom I read up on it.

Yes, there are lots of security issues with using Zoom and there are trolls out there that get their jollies posting porn on Zoom meeting for school children attending remote school classes.

But the chief of the company that runs Zoom came out and said that the company has stropped all development work and is focused on improving the security of the program and service. I got an Zoom program update shortly after I read that article.

What does running a Zoom meeting have to do with writing Steampunk?


Before using Zoom I read several articles about how to use the service and program. In writing that’s the same as researching your story.

That’s the same as reading about and studying writing.

Then before firing up the meeting I made up an agenda of what to talk about and to make sure I did not dominate the conversation. That’s the same as making an outline before you start writing.

At a dry run of the meeting I found. Some problems. This is like editing your writing.

A big problem was that I had my laptop setting on the desk and I was using the built in camera. The image I was sending out I looked like I was looming down over the camera. No, I looked like the villain in Battlestar Galaltica wearing a tee shirt with holes in it.

It was time to clean up my act (sounds of the collision alarm going off). I placed four books under my laptop. That helped a little.

Time for some more reading. The experts (people who make money at this) say to place the camera at eye level.

OK, so I go dig out an old computer camera. A Logitech c922. It may not be a mirror less DLSR, but it is better than the laptop camera. I mounted the camera on the self above the desk top (the desk is a roll top desk, eat your heart out).

The camera is not at eye level yet so I go out to the wood shop in the back yard and get a piece of four by four wood and place it under the camera to bring the camera up to eye level.

That did make the image I was broadcasting better, but when I looked down at the computer screen everyone would get a great shot of the top of my head. Glare city, not good.

The laptop was wobbly sitting on the books. Luckily I use a remote keyboard so I did not have to type on the laptop’s keyboard. The remote keyboard let’s me change laptops or go to another computer without having to re-learn the keyboard key’s layout. I’ve been using this brand and style of keyboard for four different computers (years and years).

So it was back out to the wood shop. I ended up placing two; four by fours, along with two two-by-fours under each side of the laptop. That raised the laptop ten and a quarter inches (26 cm) off the desk top. When I look at the laptop it looks like I’m staring into the camera. Eye contact is good.

How could that impact your writing? You are looking down at your keyboard/laptop (most people use a laptop to hammer out their book) to write. That image and action puts the idea in your brain of looking down at your work. Don’t look down. 99.9 percent of the world does not finish the first draft of the story they want to write, let alone publish a book. You don’t want anything, even if it’s subliminal, to give you negative thoughts about your writing. Get your laptop up to eye level. Look up to your work, mentally and physically.

Other things I did to make the Zoom meeting the best I could.

The back ground (the wall and pile of stuff behind me in the image) was a mess. I may be a mess, but I don’t want the world to know that. So I cleaned up the room a lot, but in the end, to put the meeting on the date I planned, I threw a blanket over the junk behind me. It worked.

Many writers suggest you clean up around your writing area. They say it makes you feel better. I find it makes me feel tired. I say, if you’re comfortable with your mess, write on.

I didn’t like how I looked on camera. So I threw on a good shirt, combed my hair, etc.

In writing, wearing clean good clothes is being professional. People look up to writers. We do magic. Things that they can’t do. Keep up the image. Dress up, it will improve your mood. Remember, you’re a writer not a janitor. Some people can pull off the torn tee shirt look, but would you buy a car from some one with a torn tee shirt, or would you bank with some one like that?

Next I had to do something about the lighting. I had to turn off the ceiling lights because the glare off the top on my head was overloading the camera. I got some clip-on lights out of the garage and put them on each side of me.

As a writer your eyes are precious, take care of them. A well lit room will make writing easier. A dark room is gloomy and can hurt your writing. And go outside and get some sun. You need the vitamin D and the fresh air.

I connected with the screen writing group. You need to connect with others. Writers are communicators, go communicate. Go take a class. I am. I’ve taken a couple of classes lately.

Advertising, go buy my book. You get the chance to tell me what’s wrong with the book.

Left overs go better with bacon.

I’ve been eating a lot of Mac and cheese lately. A box can make enough for three meals.

Take a left over severing of Mac and Cheese. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place Mac and cheese on baking sheet. Spread the mac and cheese out but keep it touching (somewhat like a hamburger patty). Heat for eight minutes or for ten minutes if you want it crunchy on the bottom.

While it’s heating cook a slice of bacon (turkey bacon). Make it crisp.

Eat and enjoy.

Stay strong, write on, and Zoom.
Professor Hyram Voltage