Writing in Interesting Times
As a much-quoted curse of debatable origins has it: “May you live in interesting times!” For the past year the coronavirus pandemic has demanded all our attention. It has changed everything, challenging us to determine what we can trust, where we can go, and if life as we once understood it might one day “return.” How do we write in a historic moment? Is it best to focus only on it? Can we decide to move past it or to ignore it? Do we use it as a springboard for something else, even if just to spark a work that’s small and personal? Can we hear in it echoes calling from other difficult times? In short, are we blocked by a curse or might we search for different gifts?
Each day of this generative workshop will be filled with in-the-moment writing exercises and discussions. We’ll use both memoir and fiction to explore what compels us to go deeper, examining what interests us in this “interesting” time.
Please prepare two pandemic timelines: one with the dates of key events in the pandemic on a general/societal level, whether international, national, local, or a mix—the composition and scale are up to you; the other timeline charts the (approximate) dates of events of the year on a personal scale. Be at the ready at your home screen with pens and paper, as well.
Marcie Hershman is the author of the novels Tales of the Master Race and Safe in America, and the memoir, Speak to Me: Grief, Love & What Endures. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Ms., Tikkun, Women’s Review of Books, Ploughshares, Agni, & on NPR. Anthologies include: The Norton Anthology of Women’s Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Amazon Poetry, American Fiction. Among her awards are those from the Bunting Institute, Harvard University; the L.L. Winship/Boston Globe Foundation; Massachusetts Cultural Council; Corporation of Yaddo; the MacDowell Colony. She has held the Hurst chair in fiction at Brandeis and taught for many years at Tufts University. She currently leads a private writing group in Boston.