There was a pandemic. It made me sad. I imagine it made everyone sad. I grew very tired of my wallpaper, toast-toned, with a swirling feather pattern. My striped bed sheets resembled the bars of a cage. Something was needed to shake myself out of the doldrums. I used to be funnier. In the before-time, I leapt out of my stripey bed and took on the world—well, my computer desk. But in pandemic days my sense of humor had taken a serious hike. On a whim I signed up for Gotham’s Humor Writing class with John Kachuba. I was hooked! Gotham’s online classes became droplet-free oxygen for me—a safe space in which to breathe and create. I logged onto each week’s lesson with eager anticipation. Wrote things I’d never have written. The class stretched my fogged mind—and it was fun. I made new virtual writing-friends. I laughed again. I dreamed.
I was a convert, a Gotham devotee. My next classes were with Roseanne Wells and Cullen Thomas. With her laser-sharp intellect and expertise in book marketing and publishers, Roseanne whipped my nonfiction book proposal into shape. She offered a four-week power class chock-full of information and helpful tips. My two classes with Cullen Thomas—a weekend intensive and a ten-week zoom class, both on writing nonfiction essays, were mind-bending in the best possible way. I’ve read lots of books on writing nonfiction but somehow Cullen’s classes distilled volumes into energized interactive sessions. Again, I wrote things I’d never have written. Cullen called our weekly writing exercises “promising drafts”—that was kind of him, in my case [my laughter here]. These classes were the perfect blend of generosity and challenge. I think above all, Cullen taught us to get outside our own heads and reach for the bigger story. He encouraged us to engage in conversations with the world—and during a time of pandemic lockdown when it was easy to feel isolated and alone, this was a great gift. He said em dashes were okay, too [here I’m laughing again].
Gotham classes aren’t just for pandemic times, of course, but taking them when I did, during extensive lockdowns, they were lifelines. I’ll sign up for more classes after the pandemic, too. During my Gotham winter I also slogged through the final edits, then copyedits, on my third novel, The Apothecary’s Garden. And though my Gotham classes weren’t directly related to this book project, the light and generosity Gotham brought formed an aura of creative positivity that went great lengths to push me through the novel’s final stages.
Dear Gotham, you hauled me from my slough of despond, and into the light. I remain your devotee and light-bearer.
You can learn more about Jeanette and her writing at jeanettelynes.com.