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Read letters between mentees and mentors at our “Letters with Young Writers” workshops hosted by Comcast NBCUniversal, Forbes, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Warner Media.
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From the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Letter Writing Workshop
From the Forbes Letter Writing Workshop
I just spent far too long staring at this blank page—toiling over what valuable thoughts or advice I could possibly offer you. Come to think of it, lamenting this blank page is a fitting metaphor for this bizarre era we’re living in, isn’t it?
One soothing exercise when I’m stuck or perplexed by life is to force myself to make a list: a grocery list, a to-do list, a list of most adorable dog breeds, best restaurants, whatever. I’ve found it’s even more grounding to list what I’m grateful for. So I’ll add today’s gratitude musings here:
The wisdom of others. Today, I listened to a Zadie Smith interview on the “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast. She humbly discusses how writing serves as a protective layer from the too-deep abyss of her own mind. It’s her salve, especially now. This resonated with me and it might for you, too. As the podcast ended I realized how fortunate I am to listen to the guidance of our creative icons, legendary writers, mothers and mentees.
Food that defines home. The comforting steam wafting from your beloved childhood meal, the pride of (almost) recreating your grandmother’s oatmeal cookie recipe. Sinking into those feelings is like a steady, warm “I’ve got you” hug that’s tough to come by these days. I love that food makes us reminisce, ache and dream. Today I’m thinking about my Brooklyn favorites: sweet potato fries from the Ice House in Red Hook, dumplings from the hole-in-the-wall Thai spot on Washington Avenue, a banana peanut butter smoothie from Crown Heights’ Bagel Pub, the baked beans with burnt ends from Mighty Quinn’s, Bar Bruno’s chilaquiles, the list goes on and on.
Family. I’ve been living in the same place as my parents since June—for the first time in over a decade—and it’s been sometimes overwhelming to be arguing with my father across the dinner table over two barking dogs as my mom rolls her eyes while stifling minimal laughter and my husband is sitting there like “What did I get myself into?” BUT I’m also so thankful to be sharing this time with this most precious motley crew, to process the discomfort and fear together, to see them smile every day, to celebrate my mother’s birthday with her this year, to amuse my dad—as if he didn’t already know I was funny. That’s the plague’s silver lining for me at least.
I hope this letter made you smile momentarily, mentee. I can’t imagine what it’s like being a teenager navigating what’s already a challenging time of life —and then add humanity’s weirdest era on top of that. Whatever you’re doing,—however you’re handling it—I just want to say good work. You’re doing fabulously and nothing about this is normal and I’m a full-grown woman and I constantly see those twinkly stars swirling in a blur around my head like what happens during cartoons when characters collide. And when it all becomes too much, try what I did above. Just stare down the kind of terrifying blank page and make a list.
Forbes Employee Mentor
From the Comcast NBCUniversal Writing Workshop
My recipe for success for you:
Listen more than you speak
Always listen to learn not to respond
Be nice to yourself
Find the good in people, places and things
Tell people what and why you love them
Always say please and thank you
Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes
Be generous whenever you can
Always be humble
Learn to become wise
Share your wisdom but don’t preach
—NBC Universal Comcast Employee Mentor
From the WarnerMedia Letter Writing Workshop
How are you? I hope this letter finds you well, even during these (yes, here comes the common phrase) unprecedented times.
I’m a sophomore in high school with high standards and a craving for near-perfection. Similar to many other students, I have been losing sleep and motivation. To counteract this, I turn to slam/spoken word poetry. I was introduced to the genre in 8th grade and have fallen in love with the flexibility, personality, and impact of it all. Watching others scream, rap, and whisper into the mic lights a fire within me. I cannot help but smile, snap, and let out the occasional exclamation as I watch artists express themselves. Their fierce messages about topics like empowerment and love always leave me energized and strong.
Whether it be for helping a friend through a bad day or trudging through 13 consecutive Zoom meetings, I need this strength on a daily basis. These experiences have highlighted the importance of positivity. It is all too easy to fall into a rhythm of despair during these (here comes another one) trying times. One of my passions is bullet journaling, and I dedicate a page every month for the highlights of my day. Every night, I jot down the things that made me happy that day. Sometimes, identifying my daily highlight is difficult, but reflecting always puts me to sleep with a smile.
I hope you are finding strength and positivity in these (third time’s the charm) stressful circumstances. Thank you for being someone I can look up to. This workshop was the highlight of my day.
—Girls Write Now Mentee
“If not for me—brown skin, spike-studded leather gloves, combat boots and sculptural woolen coat—this place could be 1963, still.”
– MENTOR & MENTEE ALUM KAT JAGAI
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