Something to Celebrate

Lots of great artistic things were happening twenty-five years ago, in 1993.

Frasier was giving us sophisticated comedy each week on TV. Groundhog Day was blowing our minds at the movie theaters. The Bridges of Madison County was sweeping its way up the bestseller list. Angels in America took Broadway with shock-and-awe intensity.

And that was the year Gotham Writers Workshop officially began. Twenty-five years later, we’re still here, better than ever.

We have many students now who weren’t yet born when we started. We have couples that met in our classes and are now raising children together. We have students from our Teen classes who now have writing careers (one of whom teaches for Gotham).

You can read Gotham’s story here. My Gotham story begins about 18 years ago in a pizza shop right near my old Chelsea apartment. While waiting for my greasy slices to heat up (dinner back then), I leafed through a newsprint booklet found on the counter, a Gotham brochure. As I walked home, I wondered if I could break up the loneliness of my writing days by teaching a weekly Gotham class at night.

Not long after, I got the job, which I loved, and I haven’t stopped meeting and/or working with a staggering array of fascinating people. Just one quick example. I recall teaching a free one-hour Fiction class at the famed Strand Bookstore. I was talking about Captain Ahab to a packed house. Lo and behold, a grizzled fellow hobbled into the room on a cane and I’ve never seen anyone so reminiscent of Captain Ahab.

Oh, so many people I’ve met here. Teachers, students, attendees at events (like Ahab), vendors (like Bob who we lease our big copy machine from). Our wondrous staff—Charlie, Dana, Jody, Justin, Kelly, Melissa, Ross, Sona, and Steph. And, of course, my wife, Fiyola.

Maybe that’s the biggest key to good writing. Seeing, meeting, imagining people and bringing them to throbbing life on the page. (I guarantee you’ll find interesting folks in every Gotham class.) Even if everything you write isn’t a masterpiece, you’ve still brought yourself closer to being fully alive in the world.

Honestly, I consider Gotham my family, as much as my family at home. And I hope you will find in Gotham a kind of family for your artistic pursuits, wherever you live. Oh, we may argue about a movie now and then or look askance when you take the last slice of peach pie, but we’ll stay determined to give you the best possible writing classes. In 2018 and for years to come.

Happy 25 to Gotham. And Happy New Year to all of you.

Alex Steele

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