Writing in the Time of Corona


Come together, virtually. Write now!

Greetings from my home office—a high swivel stool at my kitchen breakfast bar. I love the way the light slants through this room and I can hear the birds singing, as if all is right with the world. Here I can easily distract myself when my writing inspiration wanes and I forget to listen to my own advice—”Don’t wait to be inspired. Write to be inspired.” 

Truth be told, I usually write in coffee shops where the only distractions are the restroom and the pursuit of another Americano (decaffeinated). The roar of coffee grinders, the whoosh of steamed milk, the techno-music and the soft conversations are white noise for this extrovert.

Within my cocoon of social isolation, I have immersed myself in reading, hoping that lyrical language will shed itself upon my writing life. The photo above shows my writing journal, some of the books I plan to read or re-read while in my coronavirus cocoon, and a Corona. 

Thanks for the Parody!

I hesitate to use the word “viral,” in describing the letter often shared across social networks by persons who love the power of language—This Side of Paradise: A Letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald Quarantined in the South of France. And who can blame our errors, with such paragraphs as this one— “You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball . . . the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.”The truth is . . . this letter was not crafted by a brooding F. Scott Fitzgerald from his Paris apartment during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, but by a fiction writer from New Jersey, Nick Farriella, in March 2020, for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The letter is a parody,  “an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.” Mr. Farriella does a beautiful job of imitation, showing attention to voice, use of language, and wit, re-creating Fitzgerald’s style, as described in literary analysis, as “a clear, lyrical, colorful, witty style, [which] evoked the emotions associated with time and place.”

I welcome the unintended consequence of my foolishness—my rediscovery of Fitzgerald. I will re-read The Great Gatsby for the first time since high school.  And I will read his often anthologized personal essay, “The Crack Up.”  I hope you will do the same, so we can discuss the essay in the upcoming four-week virtual workshop, beginning April 21.  Read on!

Well-begun is Half Done!

Here are some writing prompts to start us on new writing; each is based on literary titles. Pick the one that provokes an idea or a series of ideas— a string of pearls for future use!

  • Two or Three Things I Know for Sure
    • ( Dorothy Allison’s brief memoir)
  • I Could Tell You Stories
    • (Patrician Hampl’s book of personal essays)
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Coronavirus
    • (a title tweak of Raymond Carver’s famous short story; substitute coronavirus with love!)

See. Speak. Listen. Learn. 

Virtual (adjective) —defined by Google as, “almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition.”

Please consider joining an actual-virtual monthly writing group in which you will contribute, share, listen, and learn.  Touch us with your insights and words!

  • The monthly legacy-writing group will meet in video conference on the first Wednesday of each month, beginning April 1 ($20 per participant).
  • The monthly woman writer’s group will meet in video conference on Saturday, April 14— 10 to 11:30 AM ($15 per participant).
  • Four-week memoir/personal essay workshops will begin via video conference on Tuesday, April 21—10 AM to 11:30 AM ($80 per four-week session).
  • The workshop with poet Lynnell Edwards, “Introduction to Short Lyric Forms,” is scheduled at Mellwood on Thursday, April 23, 6 to 8:30 PM.  If social isolation is still required, we will move that workshop to Thursday, May 28($30 per participant).

To inquire or enroll, e-mail me at shapeandflow@gmail.com
I will send electronic invoices directly to you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.