GTPulse: National Writers Series Asks For Locals Personal Coronavirus Stories

Storytelling is how we connect with one another, keep track of history, and process events and emotions. Living through a pandemic is a shared experience that looks different for everyone and the National Writers Series wants your story on how COVID-19 has impacted your life.

“We know what’s going on overall, so what we’re really looking for are personal stories or journal entries. Maybe you tried to go get a test and you couldn’t, or you’re a mom coming up with some really creative ways to keep your kids busy, if you’ve done something kind, if you’re a teenager…what are you worried about? Slice of life. If you’ve had a really interesting day, I want to hear about it.”

Anne Stanton and her husband Doug started the National Writers Series in 2010. The Traverse City-based nonprofit provides writing workshops and events for the community. 

“This has been deeply affecting. We can’t gather people around the campfire of conversation right now. We had to cancel our Battle of the Books finale. Basically everything is going to be postponed or held as a virtual event or canceled completely.”

Living Through the Coronavirus is a way for NWS to stay involved with the community and to create a written history through the stories.

“My great uncle Joe, he died during the Spanish War. I was really young when my grandma told me about it. I had the story all wrong, I thought he had died at home with my grandma by his side. As it turns out, he died at a military camp outside of Battle Creek where hundreds of others died. It was shocking to me the real story, and that’s how I came up with the idea along with our board.”

The idea is that there will be an archive made from all of these stories and that the stories can be something that we can look back on forever.

“This is going to be digitally archived at the library so anybody can say, ‘what was the experience of my relative during this? Were they laid off? Did they lose their business? How did they cope?’”

The stories are submitted through a separately made website, with the hope that prize winners will be chosen at the end of the summer.

“There are four age categories. Kindergarten through fifth grade, middle school, high school, and adult. We have a set of prizes for each category, 1st 2nd and 3rd. On June 30th we’re going to send the best ones to a board of judges. We’ll announce the winners at our August 22nd birthday party.”

There is no limitation on what kind of writing they will accept. Poems, stories and personal essays are all acceptable and all are encouraged to submit their writing. Whether you win or not, your words will be added to the collection.

You might not feel like your story is interesting right now or like being stuck indoors all day is hindering any ideas or creative inclination you might have. I actually think that everyone has something story-worthy going on in their lives right now. We’re all sharing this strange and distressing situation through a set of common experiences. Things like binging a new TV series, getting creative with what we have in the pantry, and learning more about who we are in an unknown reality are things we’re all going through, but your perspective on them is something unique to you and a story you can tell.


“I walked the empty road to a neighbor’s house.
I hesitated to knock — I’d have to touch the door,
but then I did. She came, her hair mussed,
smiled, and put her palm against the glass
and I put mine against the cool on my side.”

– Anne Marie Oomen, “Touch”

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Categories: GTPulse