We write alone, but stories are meant to be shared.
All of us decided to stay with our original plans, if only to try to answer to that part of ourselves that needed to tell a story, to try to remain living, breathing, vibrant. Trying was what mattered. Trying was the beautiful thing.
As the year went on, our communal trying became a safely guarded space in which we affirmed and believed that the effort of putting the ineffable into language was important work. If we were able to write, it meant we were able to believe that a world where we published work and found readers was still possible. Our lives would be affected by Covid-19 in many ways, and our meeting together to talk about the importance of language was a weekly renewal of that act of faith. Collectively, we complained about deadlines, grieved, and came back to why writing mattered.
In the end, everyone walked away with a great number of pages, either shy of finishing or otherwise having reached the final page.
I believe books are stronger when they are written in community. This has never been clearer to me than through trying to write in 2020. We write alone, but stories are meant to be shared. How much more fitting, then, to write in a virtual roomful of people who know exactly what you’re going through?
It was magical to witness all of my ten students’ stories come into being. I shared everything I know about how books work, then urged them to write at a near-subconscious level, forgetting everything I was teaching them, in order to do the important work of inventing, of marching out to new horizons, taking risks, and answering the call of whatever it is that drives us to commit to the art form.
I believe each of these stunning writers did just that. Each and every novel in our class was written with deep care and attention. I invite you to read some excerpts from this beautiful work below.
If you’re interested in reading the work generated in Ingrid’s 12-Month Novel Generator, find excerpts from some of the graduate’s work below:
Ingrid Rojas Contreras is the author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree (Doubleday, 2018) a silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and a New York Times editor's choice. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Cut, The Believer, and elsewhere. A new work of nonfiction, a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds, is coming from Doubleday in 2022.