Living Through the Coronavirus

… the conversation continues

The National Writers Series Invites You to Tell Your Story

NWS will award selected essays!

There is a deafening amount of sound about the virus, on the news, in the newspaper.  But what are you and your friends saying?

Our question is about the conversation taking place now in your head.  What do you hear? What are you saying? Who is speaking to you? You to whom?

We are living a story that will go down as history. It’s a story a 15-year-old will repeat to his or her children years from now.

It’s extraordinarily hard to tell your part of a story in real time, because we usually tell stories when we are safe and know the ending.  We just invent a lot of anecdotes from the safety of hindsight.

We are asking you to tell different stories.  We want stories about the conversation in the middle of the crisis.  Can you give us place, smell, weather, sound, the person speaking, the person listening, and what their conversation is about in the midst of this virus?

 What we want is what you feel today as the story is swirling around you like you are standing in Lake Michigan. You have your space, the news is a blizzard, your friends are doing one thing, your family is doing another, and your brain and your eyes are working overtime… What are you seeing, what are you thinking.  What would you like your children to know about this, and how they should live through this experience, if it happens to them years from now?


We know these are very difficult times financially. If you’re able, please help us keep our nonprofit going with a donation, no matter how big or small. Thank you!

Life in the Time of Virus Essay Contest

We are currently judging all entries submitted through June 30, 2020, for awards in four age categories.

We’ll announce the winners at a National Writers Series event on August 23, 2020. To register for the virtual event tickets ($12), please click the button below:

Thanks for all who submitted their entries! As a note, this website will remain open for additional entries until the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.

Best wishes,
Anne Stanton
Executive Director
national Writers Series

Submitted Stories


We are accepting submissions from anywhere in the world, but the prizes, winners soon to be announced, were only awarded to those living in the five-county area: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Kalkaska.

We ask that submissions be truthful, civil in tone, with no profanity or personal attacks.

You may make more than one entry, but the winners were eligible for only one prize. Please limit your submission to 1,000 words or less.

Judging of submissions began on June 30, 2020 and the winners will be announced August 23rd at our fundraiser with Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic.

Because the story is evolving day-by-day, week-by-week, we’ll keep this website open indefinitely. Submissions will be digitally preserved by the Traverse Area District Library.

The National Writers Series is a nonprofit, dedicated to holding great conversations with nationally renowned authors. Net proceeds of our events go to our Raising Writers programs that help build the reading and writing skills of area youth. For more information, go to

While you’re home, take a look at or listen to some of the National Writers Series past author events. They were so much fun!

Enter the Contest

    Your Information

    A brief description about yourself, i.e., "A nurse at Munson Medical Center"

    Entry Instructions

    Please find your contributor category and type in your story, limiting it to 1,000 words. Prizes will be awarded in each category.  

    Categories and Prizes

    Adult: Gift Certificate for for shops in downtown Traverse City
    • 1st Place – $350
    • 2nd Place – $100
    • 3rd Place – $50
    High School: Grades 9-12, cash prize
    • 1st Place – $350
    • 2nd Place – $100
    • 3rd Place – $50
    Middle School: Grades 6-8
    • 1st Place – $350
    • 2nd Place – $100
    • 3rd Place – $50
    Elementary School: Grades K-5
    • 1st Place – $100
    • 2nd Place – $50
    • 3rd Place – $25

    The above awards are generously funded by NWS board members Laura Asiala (adults and elementary children) and Grant Parsons (high school students).  Long-time NWS volunteer Meredith McComb funded the middle school awards. Thanks also go to Michele Howard for funding the elementary-age awards! Thanks so very much to all of you!!