Always Abuzz

Friday evening at the Gotham headquarters, around six o’clock. My favorite time of the week.

Cuban jazz plays in our lobby, providing a let-loose vibe for those starting to arrive for our Friday Night Write-In—where people come to write and socialize for a couple of hours. On the menu: writing prompts, hors d’oeuvres, and truly fine wine, compliments of the wine distributor one floor below.

It’s been a busy day at Gotham. Aside from all the usual activity, we’ve held two One-day Intensives at our HQ—Blog Basics and Grammar: Write It Right!—and we presided over a table at the Writer’s Digest conference.

Kim, one of our Write-In helpers, is chatting with Pete, the teacher who just finished teaching the Grammar class. He’s exhausted, but I’ve persuaded him to stay and teach a third room for the Write-In, because we’ve got a big crowd coming. Kim and Pete are pondering which show they like better—Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I show them Seinfeldia, a recent book about Seinfeld, written by one of our teachers, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. (It made the New York Times Bestseller list, allowing Jennifer to forevermore call herself a NY Times bestselling author.)

And though I’ve been working non-stop since 8:30 am, I’m feeling lucky. I’m surrounded by cool/crazy creative types all day long—our staff, teachers, interns, helpers, and students. Mind you, it’s not always a fiesta; there are plenty of frustrations and frantic adjustments, but mostly it’s terrifically stimulating.

I’ve been at Gotham since the turn of the century—as a teacher, then dean of faculty, then president. We’re coming up on our fifth presidential election since then, not to mention the fifteenth anniversary of  9/11. The time rushes by too fast for me to savor the moments, but today I am. (Hey, check out the book excerpt later in this newsletter, a middle-grade 9/11 novel by another Gotham teacher.)

The elevator dings, and more people arrive. It’s always a mixture of those who come frequently, those who come occasionally, and those coming for the first time. All these folks who come to Gotham—including you—make it possible for us live in this buzzing world of creativity, and we’re so grateful to have you, whether we see you in person, or you plug into us online.

Kim heads off to prepare food, as Shannon, the other helper tonight, rushes in from working at the conference. Pete heads off to confer with the other Write-In teachers, Melissa and Mo, on the evening’s prompts.

Me, I’ll journey home once the Write-In is underway, but right now I’m enjoying the jazz.

Alex Steele

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