Home Plate is a Desk on the 14th Floor

“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.


It’s not the destination — it’s the journey

We’ve all heard it before: It’s not the destination — it’s the journey. Some journeys are literal: road trips and hikes, study abroad and backpacking a continent. There are others such as your journey starting as a freshman in college and ending as valedictorian at graduation. Or you hear something controversial and decide to delve into scholarly articles, personal accounts and more to figure out where you stand. All of these are journeys and they all change you in one way or another.


Then, there are the journeys I’ve taken via reading. I discovered the Wardrobe with Lucy and greeted Mr. Tummus. There was nothing like experiencing falling down the rabbit hole with Alice. One of my favorite journeys was walking out of that old house in Paris that was covered in vines, with the smallest of all the girls — Madeline. I remember my first day at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione. I can precisely recall the adventures I went on with them as we grew older, wiser, and braver.

There is nothing like an adventure through imagination. And it was these adventures with Harry, Ron and Hermione, with Lucy and Alice, with Madeline, that I discovered my own adventures and journeys through writing.

I’ve worked on stories/short pieces based in a university laundry room, Camden Lock (London), Washington Heights (NYC), the Dominican Republic, and most recently — an alternate universe.

Your imagination could take you on so many journeys. Don’t let anything stop you from them. Imagination

New York Times said it perfectly: It’s not the destination — it’s the journey. We’ve all heard this before. What does it mean to you? There are literal journeys, like road trips or hikes, but there are other kinds, too, such as learning and mastering a skill, or doing in-depth research about something.

What are your journeys? What did they teach you about yourself? Talk about the journeys you’ve taken or are dreaming to take. What have you gained from your past journeys? Why do you want to take future journeys? Do you believe that in such undertakings, it’s what happens along the way that matters more than crossing the real or metaphorical finish line?

Good morning from a sunshowered NYC!

NYC Skyline

High-five to my first blog post!

I’m Nikki. I’m a twenty-two year old, surviving off of iced coffees and 8tracks playlists. I walk incredibly fast and “swim” through crowds. I avoid Times Square at all cost, but you can find me climbing some rocks by the Ravine in Central Park, admiring the Cherry Blossoms near the Loeb Boathouse, or squealing about how cute the turtles (my favorite animal) are by the Turtle Pond.

I read books. A lot of them. My mom calls my room a library. I am a hoarder of books, also known as a bibliophile. Although I am twenty-two, I absolutely love reading YA (Young Adult) and NA (New Adult) books. Reading was my very first love, which lead me to my current love: writing. I write to understand my own mind. There’s so many things that are scattered within the grey matter of my brain that it is hard to comprehend — that is until I begin to place pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I aspire to be a YA/NA author and I’m pretty sure — nearly 98% sure — that being an intern at Gotham will help me get there.

CrooklynI grew up in Brooklyn — only a short train ride away from the city. Speaking of using the term “the city,” does anyone actually call it Manhattan anymore? I pretty much love every aspect of my city: all the positives, negatives, and in-betweens.

The Sights: skyscrapers, bumper-to-bumper street traffic, humans of all walks of life, Central Park.

The Sounds: sirens, horn-honking, the many languages of the world, the mysterious voice of the MTA Woman – letting you know what stop it is… and if you listen closely — you could hear a bird chirp!

The Smells: the stench of rotting garbage under the 95º summertime sun, honey-roasted peanuts on the corners, rain on pavement.

The Tactile: a brand-new, smooth MetroCard, the germ-filled poles of a subway car, the warmth of the dirty water dog in your hand.

It took me time away from home to realize just how much I love this place and how grateful I am to live in the city that never sleeps. In the summer of 2013, I went to London. While walking throughout the city: East End, West End, Camden Lock, Kensington, High Street, Oxford Street, Leicester and Trafalgar Square, King’s Cross — I had an odd familiarity with it. All the sounds were the same. Some of the sights were, too.

London - NikkiQuinn_

One night at nearly 2AM, I was awoken by a few drunk friends singing “We Are The Champions” by Queen horribly off-tone. Somehow, this prompted me to write. A few scribbles of nothing turned into something: I began to write about the definition of home. What is home? Where is home? Is it a house, a city, a country? Is it a person? A place you feel the most comfortable whether it be in the confines of your private bedroom – regardless of where that is – or is it in your little corner of the local coffee shop? I stayed up all night, writing page after page of home and arguing with myself which felt more like home: New York City or London. After a while, I finally discovered that home is a personal definition and an individual can define home however they’d like. For me, there were a few types of “home.”

i. The place you grew up. Now, this place doesn’t necessarily mean you were born there and lived all your life. This home could be the place that raised you: where you experienced the worst and best memories, where you learned, matured, and ultimately became the person you are today.

ii. The place your heart is. Since experiencing the beautifully, wondrous world of Harry Potter, the girl power of the Spice Girls and the accent from Hallie James in the Parent Trap at the age of eight — I used all my birthday candles for a single wish: to visit London. I was able to live that dream at twenty years old. When I entered London, I cried tears of joy. Those weeks of living in the city of my dreams lifted my heart. I knew that this city would forever have a hold on me. It was there I discovered so much about myself, about life, and more.

iii. The person your heart is with. I have been with my boyfriend since January of 2012. He is my rock, my best friend, my soulmate. It wasn’t until I met him that I understood what others meant when they said “[They are] home to me.” To many, home means comfort; home means a place where you could wear your underwear and your favorite t-shirt with a hole under the arm, eating ice cream from the container while singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” on top of your lungs. I could do all of this and more with my boyfriend. He is home.

I believe that the more I travel, the more places I’ll leave pieces of my heart.
Ultimately, New York City and all of its shenanigans & malarkey have a nice, large chunk.

How about you? What’s considered home to you?