“A dream come true.” It might be a trite phrase, but my internship with Gotham Writers Workshop so far has embodied just that.
New York City is a vibrant community rich with culture, history, and architecture. I’m amazed to simply be here. Two years ago I was in Virginia, sitting in a small semi-circle of writers in a college classroom. We were discussing the craft behind Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” from the appendix of Gotham’s guidebook Writing Fiction. Far removed from the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains now, I find myself representing the same school that taught me the basics of creative writing. The realization fully hits me when I’m on the phone, registering students for their very first dialogue or memoir writing classes, or in preparation for the unveiling of Gotham’s new website with Alex Steele, the sound of 8th Avenue traffic raging fourteen stories below us.
What I like best about Gotham is the idea that lies at their mission’s core: “We believe anyone can write. Writing is a craft, like carpentry, that can be taught, learned, and mastered.” It’s been said, but it bears repeating: successful writers don’t just emerge out of the womb with pen in hand ready to write Anna Karenina. Sure. Possessing a natural-born talent is great. But it’s the nitty-gritty hard work that can push a dreamer that extra mile to go on and pave his or her own way to greatness.
Case in point: last Sunday, my father and I watched the YES Network’s coverage of Bernie Williams Day. It was a tribute to Bernie Williams’s 16 years as one of the greatest center fielders in Yankee history. Bernie broke into the majors as a skinny kid from Puerto Rico, hitting just three home runs out of 320 at-bats his first year as a Yankee. His teammates described him as a quiet figure in the clubhouse; he was known to strum his guitar on breaks and wake up from a nap sometimes ten, fifteen minutes before a game would start. But Williams trained endlessly and played to the best of his ability in every game. He went on to achieve big in the postseason, helping the Yankees win four World Series Championships in 1996 and from 1998-2000, setting a few excellent hitting records in his own right. He rapidly became one of the New York fans’ most beloved players to watch. And he remained so, applause from the stadium—his fans, friends, and family—roaring as I watched him, unveiling the shiny bronze plaque to be situated forever in his honor in Monument Park.
Williams’s secret—that is, equal parts focus, humility, hard work, and passion—led, I think, to his success. It’s the same recipe for success that I see Gotham passing along to their students. And it’s the same mentality I admired in their mission that stirred me to apply for an internship with them in the first place.
I’m thrilled to be helping people achieve their writing goals during this internship. And as a hopeful writer and actress myself, I look forward to doing a bit of learning here, too. Taking Gotham’s screenwriting and travel writing courses has already taught me plenty, more of which I’ll talk about in a future blog post.
But as for right now? I’ve got a warm mug of black tea, pajamas right out of the dryer, and a living room sofa with my name on it. Hey, don’t underestimate the importance of downtime. Every dreamer needs a nice, long nap before they can run to home plate.
Stephanie Spector is a senior creative writing major at Roanoke College. She loves movies, vegan food, the outdoors, Billy Joel Pandora, and reading in her pajamas. She is the Managing Editor at the Roanoke Review and lives in Freehold, New Jersey with her family and dog, Bauer.