Well hello friends.

I’m back with another installment of “Writing Prompts &”.

This week, I’ll be sharing a little something I wrote during a Gotham Creative Writing course I took back in June of 2020.

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Gotham is a writing school based in New York City that offers both online and in-person classes for all levels of writers. Before the pandemic, I would go into the city some Friday nights and take one of their write-in’s, a two hour writing prompt party, of sorts, where a relatively small group of people would sit around a table writing for 15 minutes about a writing prompt given by the facilitator. After the 15 minutes elapsed, everyone had the option to share their work, and the others in the group would give positive feedback. We would do this three times.

I have been a writer all my life, but the Gotham Write-In’s were the first time I had ever felt like a writer. It would be years before I’d make good on my promise to the universe to actually BE a writer. But we’re there now, and that’s what counts. Every story has to have a starting point. Mine starts with Gotham Writers. (It actually starts with a marble composition notebook my mother bought me from Shop Rite to write stories in when I was 7, but I digress.)

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I’ve been reading through my old journals recently, one in particular that I kept throughout 2020 has been of pointed interest.

I was in my 12th year of teaching. My anxiety had come back. I was struggling tremendously. There are tons of pages in this journal that speak to days spent home with migraines and guilt over having to call out yet again. And guilt over not grading the mountain of papers in my work bag. And guilt over not prepping or planning for the next day. And feeling overwhelmed by the tidal wave of it all. And anxiety about what I would go back to when I returned to school after a day trying to heal. But there was no healing. How can you heal when you can’t shut your brain off? How can you heal when you’re drowning?

And then the world shut down.

There was no where to go. No plans to make. All I had was time. That’s when life began.

I realize I say this with a huge amount of privilege that is not lost on me. My husband and I were secure in our jobs. We were able to work from home. We were able to live comfortably without having to put our lives at risk, and I know that was not the reality for many people during that time. There’s guilt that comes with knowing that.

I saw this time as an opportunity to get clear about my life, what I wanted to do with it, what would make me happy, how I could heal…finally…or at least start to. If this was the end of the world, the end of civilization, it didn’t make sense to waste anymore time being unhappy and overwhelmed.

So, I went back to my roots. Writing.

I signed up for writing classes of all kinds and met writer friends and created community and a whole new world for myself, a world I’d always wanted.

And in the early days of pioneering my writing life, I wrote this with Gotham Writers.

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Writing Prompt: Write about a stressful situation.

“In the event that…we have to go to remote learning, our platform will be Google Classroom.”

It was a Wednesday. A professional development day. I assumed they would take the rest of the day to prepare us for what might come. The words Coronavirus and Covid had been buzzing around the mouths of students, teachers, and administrators like the verve of energy before a snow day for the last couple of weeks.

The principal continued to read from the Superintendent’s form letter.

“Plan to be here Monday. We will resume business as usual.”

He finished reading the letter and invited the staff up for another round of pastries and bagels displayed on the eternally dirty folding tables at the front of the cafeteria.

“This is bull shit,” my friend stage whispered.

“You expect more? Like you expect concrete answers? You’ve worked here long enough. He’ll call it at 7 PM on Friday night.” I rolled my eyes.

“Yeah, but we should spend today preparing. This is bull shit,” he muttered.

“Here. Have a donut.” I pushed the plate across the table.

We spent the rest of the day learning about sheltered instruction for ELL students in mainstream classrooms. No talk of preparation for the shut down…which came with a bang on Friday night at 7 PM.

A robocall from the Superintendent.

“We will be closed for two weeks starting Monday.”

Two weeks became indefinitely.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for now friends. Thanks for traveling with me down memory lane for a bit. There will be more where that came from. And thanks for being here.

Wishing you a week filled with words and all the things that bring your heart joy.

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