Written May 20, 2020

Considering how unfinished the school year felt after its abrupt cancellation, I sort of forgot that it was the end of my time in Front Street Writers. But as Ms. Scollon was wrapping up our virtual meeting last week, she mentioned that the next class would be the last for seniors.

At our final meeting, we started a list of memories from the year: helping to package meat for Food Rescue and making up lunch lady names (mine was Evelyn), introducing the morning and afternoon classes to each other at Poetry Out Loud, and psyching each other up for interviews, among many others. One of my favorite memories is sitting in the cushy orange chairs in our classroom with any number of friends (one day nearly half the class ended up crowded into a corner in the chairs or on the carpet, talking, writing, and talking about writing). It hit me how much I will miss all this. Of course, I already do. I anticipated most of the world returning to normalcy eventually; I subconsciously assumed I would also return to class.

After generating our list, we each thought of one rose (an image of something good we remembered), one thorn (something difficult that we had to overcome), and one bud (a potential new beginning or continuation of something in our lives). I recalled as much of the year as I could—there were mostly roses. The main thorn for me was learning to accept critiques of personal work and understand that a criticism of my writing isn’t a negative reflection of me as a person. I’ve learned, slowly, to separate myself from my writing when revising and accept feedback instead of feeling the need to defend my work. The bud I mentioned at our virtual meeting was my newfound interest in creative nonfiction.

We may still have a final reading at some point, but things are changing too unpredictably to know if that can happen. Unless or until it does, this is my final blog post.

I’ve heard some of the best writing advice from classroom visitors, including authors here from the National Writers Series. I learned new writing strategies and different types of writing I could go into professionally. Recent visitor Peter Heller, who was particularly interesting, starts writing without thinking of where the story is going and instead focuses on the sound of the words and sentences he is putting together. I also loved hearing about all of the places he had been and written about (including what was basically an eco-pirate ship!). 

After two years, I can say without a doubt that applying for this program was one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made. I wanted to go there because I loved writing. I wanted to learn more about it. But what I got was so much more than that. When I found this group of unquestioningly supportive and accepting people, I felt like I was allowed to find out who I was—to talk to people, step outside of my comfort zone in my writing as well as other parts of my life, and to see confidence as something attainable. Even the clothes I wore changed after I joined Front Street Writers. I didn’t want to be invisible anymore. If there were people who had any problems with my existence, I took comfort in knowing there was a whole group of people at the Career-Tech Center who did not.

Years from now, I’m sure I’ll still have many friends and memories from this class, as well as everything it’s taught me, from the importance of imagery to my love of public speaking to interviewing skills. And, of course, I’ll always remember the pandemic that ended everything early and the unique, virtual experience my classmates and I had these past months.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the blog. Stay safe! Goodbye for now.

—Erin Evans