It’s my absolute pleasure and privilege to host Marlene Cullen on my blog this morning.
Guest Post by Marlene Cullen
On March 19, 2020 when the order was given to shelter in place in California, I thought we would be confined for one or two months. I had been following my friend’s journey in Italy with their mandates of staying home and wearing masks when going out. That sounded extreme. I saw photos of empty streets in Florence where she lived and thought that will never happen in the United States.
But, of course, it did happen here. Navigating the maze of staying safe became a world-wide endeavor.
Less than a month after the shelter in place order, I realized the importance of documenting thoughts and emotions, like a snapshot or a still life painting, chronicling this confusing chapter of our history. I wanted to know what writers were thinking during the surreal time from mid-March through December 2020.
And so the anthology, The Write Spot: Musings and Ravings From a Pandemic Year was born.
Writers were willing to be vulnerable in telling their stories of finding ways to survive and manage both the pandemic and painful childhoods. They overcame lethargy and ennui to tell stories of loss, vintage treasures, being in nature, dance as therapy, and remembering fathers even when they were less than perfect.
One person wrote about the difficulties of being hard of hearing and how mask wearing makes it impossible to read lips. Emotional discoveries, stories of gratitude, and descriptions of relationships that can never be fixed are revealed.
I asked each contributor what energizes them. The answers illustrate the importance of self-care: walking, swimming, being in nature, accomplishing projects, imagining, dancing, meditating, and accepting.
Some of the fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction narratives in this anthology are serious, others are humorous. Many pieces were written from a desire for introspection and discovery.
It will be interesting to read what historians will say about this tumultuous year. For now, we can read what some writers were thinking and experiencing.
There are writing prompts to encourage writing. Some prompts are poignant, some invite summer memories, others list how to handle middle of the night anxieties — any of these prompts can be used to enrich your writing.
The list of recommended books includes how to write memoir, memoirs that can be used as textbooks, and writing books you may have never heard of.
In a year that felt like a harrowing emotional roller coaster ride, I invite you to explore these pages and remember you aren’t alone on this journey called Life.
Our pandemic year has been a challenge, a change, and an opportunity, all rolled together. Mask wearing, physical distancing, Zoom parties and events have become part of our “new normal.”
My takeaway from 2020 is that it’s important to connect. Phone a friend just to say hello. Write to explore your thoughts and feelings.
Read writing that calms when the journey is hard and it seems there is nothing to look forward to. Reading favorite pieces can restore the sense that everything will be okay.
And breathe. Remember to breathe. What have you learned during shelter in place?
Marlene Cullen is the editor of The Write Spot anthologies, motivating readers to become writers, every volume includes entertaining vignettes, writing prompts, and writing resources.
Marlene’s blog, The Write Spot, features writing prompts, places to submit writing, encouragement to write, and techniques to improve writing.
Marlene is the founder and producer of Writers Forum, literary Zoom events, where diverse presenters chat about the craft and business of writing. www.TheWriteSpot.us