Nelson Stokes

Nelson Stokes

Dear Gotham,

Writers are plagued. They are plagued with ideas of what to write about, what’s too personal, what’s un-relatable, what may offend and what would attract, where should the comma go. But most of all we are plagued by the voice that calls us to write, the itch in the finger, the idea in the head.

Over a decade ago, I wrote a memoir of my experiences as a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team—Cool Runnings and Beyond, but I had not put pen to paper in earnest since then.

Having decided to begin writing again and having deliberated on matters critical to success in writing such as what time of day I should write; should I write on the sofa or at a desk, pen or pencil, iPad or paper, I settled on late evenings, desk, pencil and paper. I was drained by the exertions. This was October 2015. Weeks passed but there were no words on my newly bought cotton bond paper, and no use made of my still full length HB pencil.


I decided to take a writing class and naturally typed into Google “Creative Writing Classes” and was about to hit enter when I decided on a small edit—“Free.” The results ranged from confusing to unsatisfying. I did what I always do when I am confused and unsatisfied. Nothing. Weeks more passed.

The cotton bond paper and my HB pencil, I feared, would never have the chance to consummate their relationship. This seemed unnatural so I resumed my search. Through a series of serendipitous events—including a comment by my investment advisor that “You get what you pay for”—I decided to enroll in Creative Writing 101 at Gotham Writers Workshop.

My first assignment was an experiment in anthropomorphism, as I decided to give a “window” qualities of thought and emotion, which was, in my opinion, ingenious. I submitted my work and waited for the accolades to come in from the teacher. Laura, the instructor, trashed it. Politely of course.

But I did what all rejected writers must do. I kept writing. Now at the end of the class I see the wisdom of Laura’s instructions and have benefited tremendously from the whole experience, particularly reading the writing of other students. On Laura’s recommendation, I submitted one of my stories to Flash Fiction Magazine and was surprised and humbled that it was accepted for publication. Applying what I learned worked.

Now pencil and paper can’t keep their hands off each other. I hope for more successful progeny, or at least pleasure, the pleasure of writing.

Thank you Gotham.

Nelson Stokes