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Author’s Personal Narrative

Essays, letters, papers for school. Wrote plenty. Mostly reveled in the writing. Non-fiction all, interrupted by an occasional bout of story or poem. But creative work I hesitated to submit, send, mail. My work was more academic. I cultivated scholarly skills and developed the eye of an editor. 


Then came the news in March 2020 that metastatic cancer had spread to the lung – just as the world was shutting down for covid.


Out with the gym, stores, university classes, social events. Not even a church to go to. On top was more chemotherapy, then the next chemotherapy.


In a daze about what to do midway between isolation and discomfort. You have always wanted to write, my son said. Now, with nowhere to go and little to do, you have to write. 


Strong objections. Even irritation. But we made a plan. 


Zoom was a boon. Remote writing instruction everywhere. And the risks, fears. 


I found an online writer’s studio at a university I had attended during the in-person era. Fiction, advanced fiction, prose poems, plays.  Assignments every week. Discussing work with faces that occupied cave-like squares. Shocked by how much I could benefit from the company of classmates two thousand miles away.


Not long until my son found publishing courses offered by a research library. He at his laptop in a city apartment. Me at my distant work table in a lilac room with two windows. Talk about submissions. Organizational online tools, spreadsheets, lists on paper pads. Harder to send out the work, to promote than to create.


But some encouraging responses. Then a winter day with family holed up in a northern cabin. Acceptance. And the day, months later, when the lit journal arrived in the mail. And the day after that when another poem in another journal came. Extraordinary twist of fate. Still writing. 


Mary Ellen Swee

August 22, 2022

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