• Pandemic: What is Giving You Hope & Encouragement?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in CoronaVirus     Comments 12 comments

    Discussion question: We asked a few WriteByNighters what is giving them hope and encouragement during this COVID-19 pandemic. Their answers, with relevant links, are below. What’s giving you a boost these days? Let us know in the comments, and include links to any videos or articles you mention.


    Many of us these days are finding plenty of reasons to cry, but we’re also looking for laughter anywhere we can find it. Some WriteByNighters have shared their experiences with us in related discussion posts, “What’s Making You Smile & Laugh” and “What’s Making You Cry, Happy & Sad.”

    In this one, we want to find out what is providing you all with just a little bit of hope and encouragement today. A few have already shared some responses, which I’m posting below. (Not everybody has managed yet to find any; I think it’s important to share their replies too. You should feel free to share yours too, if you’re in the same boat.)

    We’d love to hear from you, too: What is giving you a boost of hope and encouragement these days? Let us know in the comments, and include any relevant links.


    All the helpers!  Everything from the Americans of Conscience checklist to new sites like While at Home, a clearinghouse for getting medical and other supplies to where they’re needed. The site includes a link to a relief fund, which itself includes links to organizations helping those in need.

    — Elissa Malcohn


    Seeing how everyone I know is weathering this moment, the different, creative, often heartbreaking ways they’re confronting their fears and worries. It’s a nice reminder that my life is full of wonderful, thoughtful people.

    Aaron Block, Yak Babies host


    Not a lot, these days. Nobody I know is sick, so that’s reassuring.

    — Jerry Schwartz


    What gives me hope–remembering another hopeless time:

    In 2003, I was named NY educational envoy to Korea. Along with visiting schools and museums, I was taken to the DMZ on what happened to be the morning after the 1st shooting event in 25 years. As if the barbed wire fencing wasn’t dreary enough, fat dark clouds sunk low above us. In the absence of people for over a half century, the DMZ had become a wetlands sanctuary. Pushing off a bed of reeds, a lone crane began his flight, first to the North then circling to the South. I remember thinking that if a crane was free to travel from one half of Korea to the other and back, eventually, people would too. Now, I walk along the near empty streets of COVID-ravaged Queens snapping photos of the Bradford pear trees lush with blooms. I listen as silver mourning doves croon love songs to their mates while jays argue over territories and I think, if spring can return, surely, so will we.

    Adrienne Leslie


    The helpers I described, and the hope that collectively we can emerge from this with some greater sense of how we want to live, what truly matters, and what we’re willing to put up with in our larger social order. I see so many people reconnecting with different parts of themselves they didn’t have time to nurture in The Old Days, people taking up new hobbies, learning new things, finding new forms of self-expression. I hope we can hold on to that and not get lost in the endless grind that seemed inescapable before.

    — Cecily Sailer, WBN coach/consultant


    The stories of people helping each other in any small or big way.

    — Adriana Cloud, WBN coach/consultant


    Despite the utter failure of leadership on the national level in this country, the beautiful, amazing, sometimes totally unbelievable ways people are showing up for each other on the ground gives me hope and encouragement, whether it’s small kindnesses like bringing each other food or larger, more concerted efforts like these.

    Tom Andes, WBN coach/consultant


    Shut-in by the shut-down. Demanded by executive order and peer pressure, we venture out-of-doors only by absolute necessity, keep several arm’s lengths away from fellow humans, and wear surgical masks lest our breaths prove lethal. Most people seem to see this as sharing the sacrifice for the sake of the common good. Pulling together, they say, we’ll endure until we beat this pandemic and life returns to normal.

    But I don’t see it that way. Life will never return to “normal.”

    Now this is a blog about writing, and so I won’t get into arguments over why I believe this COVID-19 event to be a pseudo-pandemic. I only mention it to offer why I am especially disturbed by what’s happening, over and above the presence of any virus.

    This “pandemic” has been called “9-11 part II.” I believe that is true, and this current distress is an extension of that earlier watershed event. Indeed, this is the slow strangling of human freedom. The total-surveillance, police state envisioned by Mr. Orwell is leaving the shadows. In a bad flu season, it offers us a protective embrace sure to tighten until we suffocate.

    For me, seeing this adds broken morale on top of quarantine, masks, and social distancing. If you want to begin to see why I feel this way, let me point you to this article written by economist and geopolitical analyst Peter Koenig.

    Encouragement comes from feeling safe in the bosom of my family, where we can together endure the storm, at least for now. I thank the spirits that I earned enough over my working life to have retired early when I had to. We can live, and I am able to write.

    On the writing side, I have learned enough and progressed enough that I can legitimately see the end of my WIP and anticipate the next ones. That is a reason for personal hope. And little extra projects, like this blog post, also help very much. All this represents the continuance of that self-expression an artist is compelled to make. I see it in my writers group. It is a joy in the way that taking a deep, clean breath is a joy.

    Ray Foy


    I’m not encouraged in any way at this moment. The [Wisconsin primary] election was held today, face-to-face despite that the governor postponed it until June. The Republican Judges shot that down. They didn’t care that a lot of people will die because of their decision. We voted absentee, just in time, but a lot of people who applied for absentee ballots didn’t get them in time because polling places were short staffed, they couldn’t keep up with the sudden influx, and didn’t send them out.

    I’ve been spending too much time obsessing on the virus; the infection numbers and the deaths. It kind of freaks me out that there is only one recovery in Wisconsin, and most states and most countries have none.

    I’m so angry all the time from watching too much Facebook and all the politics and posturing while people die from the pandemic.

    David Lemke


    Thank you for reading and contributing. We hope you’re staying healthy and staying safe.

    This post is part of a series collecting the experiences of WriteByNighters during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are links to the rest of these discussion posts:

    What’s making you smile and laugh

    What’s making you cry, happy & sad

    What are you reading?

    What are you writing?

    How are you writing?

    General discussion


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Joe Giordano

    My cousin contracted COVID-19 was put on a ventilator and was deteriorating fast – to the point her family asked if a priest could give her last rights (no, they’re not allowed inside the ICU with infected patients). Her doctor gave her hydroxychloroquine. Almost immediately her condition began to improve, and two days ago, she was transferred from the ICU, breathing on her own with the aid of an oxygen mask. She still faces a long road to recovery, so please include her in your prayers. Her experience with hydroxychloroquine is, of course, anecdotal – there is no proof the… Read more »


    L., I was one of those people who got the late ballot and I lost my chance to vote because I’d been informed of the first April 13 deadline and didn’t know it had changed so quickly. It was a terrible feeling to not be able to vote for the first time in my life. I think voter suppression is the only real issue now.


    Yet. look what happened. Devoted people stood in line not only during a pandemic but also in rain and cold, for hours, and gave an unexpected victory to the woman Democrat running for Wis. Supreme Court.


    What gave me hope was Pope Francis’ Easter Message. He prayed for the most vulnerable and he began with prisoners and the homeless. They don’t get a lot of press. He then went on to call out He Who Shall Not Be Named without naming him but said this is not the time for self-centeredness and divisiveness but that politicians should use their power to help their brothers and sisters in need in any way possible and should think of innovative ways to help. He then went head on into poltics calling for cease fires and an end to arms… Read more »


    Also wanted to mention this 2010 documentary featuring Dr. Fauci, about the 1918 flu epidemic.He is the real deal. This film gave me hope just because we still have him if he doesn’t get tweeted away. Also, it gives you the perspective that we’ve been through this before, and we did survive.
    For some reason the link doesn’t always work, but you can find it by its name on You Tube, “We Heard the Bells” narrated by S. Epatha Merkerson (sp?)

    John Liebling

    From an April 10 article written by Aaron Heller… Israelis looking out for overworked healthcare professionals ‘ADopt A Doc’ Karmon Scope, a 44 year old startup entrepreneur, took to Facebook to ask Israelis to assist both the health care professionals who are saving lives while braving exposure in long hours at hospitals, and the families they have left behind. The results have been staggering. More than 10,000 have signed up to “Adopt A Doc.” Besides providing needed protective gear and other medical supplies, an army of volunteers has carried out grocery shopping, delivered home cooked meals, babysat for children and… Read more »

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