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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Maintaining a Creative Practice at the End of the World

"I just can't write right now," one of my students said this week. "I sat at my computer for three hours this morning and couldn't write a word," she said. She wasn't the only student to share with me how stuck they feel, and I can relate.

Times are tough, people. I haven't written here in a minute - because I was on one last vacation before the world crumbled, and then nothing I had to say seemed to matter. Even writing a press release about literacy grants this week felt trite, and even insulting. How dare I write about events that aren't going to happen and luxuries like reading? My student was feeling this, too. "It must be easier to write fiction," she said. "Self-reflection is hard at a time like this." She's right. As we sit alone at home with our thoughts, things can get scary, especially if you live with a mental illness, as I do. Anxiety is high and isolation and lack of usual routines can bring out depression and make it hard to focus.

So how can we continue to be creative in these end times? Should we? Does anything we create matter anymore? These are questions buzzing around my student's and my minds. But here's the thing. We need connection right now more than ever, at a time when we're so disconnected from each other. We need humanness. We need comfort and solace. We need beauty. We need stories.

In his 2018 commencement address at the Bennington Writing Seminars, Allan Gurganus turned to the graduates (the class ahead of mine) and said, "I'm really gonna need to read you...The future wants to read you. How else will it know what it is?"

And so I offer that to my students and to all my readers: we need each other's stories right now, real and made-up. We need each other and stories are the way we can connect when we can't be together. Writing and creating has never been more important. We need joy, and laughter, and even heartbreak. We need to live through stories, to experience all that we're missing by being without each other.

To that end, I'm editing a collection of mental health recovery stories, to be published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. I want uplifting stories about overcoming challenges and how you maintain your mental health. I want stories that capture resilience and strength amidst adversity. I want stories from people who have struggled with mental health challenges, and people who love those who have. I'll be accepting stories and poems until August 1, so you have plenty of time to write. I will consider simultaneous and previously published work but you *must* own the rights to it. So let me have your stories, your essays, your poems! I really need to read you right now.

Submit here and please share!

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