Question: What can I do? Answer: Offer free Writing Our Lives Generative Classes

Like many of you, I’ve been struggling; vacillating between being okay one day, one moment, and anxious as fuck the next. I’ve marveled at people’s abilities, how they’ve reinvented themselves and what they do to bring it online. 

For weeks I’ve been asking myself: what can you do, Vanessa?

I haven’t been producing. I’ve had trouble focusing so I haven’t been writing or reading much, which has been really hard. I’m a writer, editor and educator. This is what I do. For the most part I’ve been quiet. Brooding a lot. Worried. Watching the birds on my deck. I’ve been feeding them for weeks now. Buying boxes of suet for them. They’ve grown used to me caring for them. Woodpeckers, sparrows, starlings, finches and so many more come to feed every day.

I’ve been gardening and cooking. I have dozens of plant babies that I’m looking forward to potting once the weather warms. I’ve made elaborate meals. I made my first pernil, slow cooked a pot roast, learned how to make sofrito in bulk, am planning on making banana bread. I’ve been creative in some ways, but not in the way that is normal for me, which on bad days, has made me question and fret over what I do: Why does the writing matter? Why does any of my work matter? 

I love the work I do, so it’s been difficult to not feel compelled to do any of it. Not to teach or write or mentor or anything. I’ve just felt like putting my hands in soil. Germinating and planting seeds. Watching them root, seed, become their own life forces. And I’ve felt like cooking. Making huge stock pots of sopa, which I delivered to loved ones doorsteps across the boroughs, always maintaining a safe distance, of course. 

Throughout these many weeks of lock down & social isolation (I’m on Day 41, since returning early from San Antonio when the health emergency was announced), I’ve kept coming back to the same question: what can you do that feels authentic to you, Vanessa? 

At first the gardening was for me, for my emotional and mental health, but my family jumped in on the project with surprising zeal. They helped me germinate seeds, put the seeds in soil once the “tail” sprouted, labeled, watered. I’m the only one who sings to the plants in the morning, but the other day when I didn’t, my daughter asked “no singing today, mom?” She’s called me weird for doing it. Now she misses it when I don’t. 

My neighbor whom I hadn’t met, poked her head out her window the other day to tell me how lovely she thinks my plants are, and that they’ve been helping her over these lock down days… Something that I started for me has helped others too. That’s beautiful! 

I haven’t felt the call to join online readings, of which there have been so many. My energy is low and I’m on preservation mode. A part of me feels bad. I want to show up and support, but I’m doing the best that I can…

Then, the other day, I got the call to create a free two hour Writing the Mother Wound generative class, a super condensed version of my multi-week signature class. I spent days working on the slideshow presentation, deciding on the readings, coming up with new writing prompts. I capped the class at 51. Within hours of announcing the offering, many more than 51 had signed up. I decided to send the videoconference info and homework to everyone. The two hour class turned into three hours, with 60 participants. It was glorious, and exactly what I needed to feel invigorated and re-energized. I remembered the importance of the work I do. I saw it in action.

So I’ve decided to offer a free generative class every week, on Fridays 3-5pm EST, through the end of May, maybe longer. The themes will change every week and will be centered around Creative Nonfiction as that is my heart genre. But don’t worry you fiction writers, I gotchu too. I’ll be facilitating a writing fiction from real life class as well. 

What writing class would you like to see me to facilitate? (You can check for the types of classes I teach.)

Here are the dates for the Writing Our Lives Free Generative Classes:
April 24th, 3-5pm EST Writing the Mother Wound
May 1st, 3-5pm EST Writing Fiction from Real Life
May 8th, 3-5pm EST Writing Flash Nonfiction
May 15th, 3-5pm EST
May 22nd, 3-5pm EST
May 29th, 3-5pm EST

I’ll be announcing the theme of the next class, on Friday, April 24th, in the coming days.

Important registration information: Participants will have to register weekly. I will post information on how to register by Tuesday or Wednesday of each week.

See you soon! 

With love,
Vanessa Martir & the Writing Our Lives Workshop



  1. Thank you for offering these free classes. I have a safe place to live and food but I have no money coming in. I would love to be included in your Friday classes!!! Nourishments for the soul!!
    Thank you for your generosity!!

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