Welcome back to a most peculiar year. Here at CSU, the MFA program in Creative Writing has done their best to keep calm and carry on. Carry on is something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately. When there is strife in the world, how does an artist keep practicing their art without being consumed by anxiety? How does a writer focus on their craft without turning away from the pandemic, revolutions, the fires, the election….?
I think many writers are empaths—how else can you capture the varied and emotional human condition on paper?!—and that means we feel deeply. We feel the world and all its shifts. So perhaps our writing has been in a lull. Perhaps we have decided that for a while we need to take a break from our stanzas, our characters and our career plans.
But coming back to CSU this fall, I felt reconnected to my power source. While it was a summer of cicadas droning and Star Trek (Next Generation, of course), I immediately was woven back into the community of writers here. While I had been avoiding the practice of writing and yielding to worry and anger, I came to understand that the worry and my work could attain simpatico.
I believe this is possible because of the program that I’ve been a part of. It was our efforts to reach out to each other, to band together. I know it sounds like an 80s movie, but hear me out. We’ve been patient with each other. Getting Zoom links right is a struggle! We’ve emailed each other when interactions have been shortened to a wave across campus. We have continued to learn new ways to structure our stories, to dissect our work, to teach and care when we have heavy weights on our shoulders. We cannot forget the pandemic and the summer of revolution. And we shouldn’t. But we shouldn’t go silent in the face of uncertainty.
I see this year as a new frontier. We can use our gifts as writers: empathy, critical thinking, eloquence, to capture this moment in time and make meaning of the chaos. To recognize that the world revolves in its cyclical way but changes—and can change for the good.
Elena Brousard Norcross is a third-year fiction candidate at CSU.