Patricia Fuentes Burns

"Being able to read and write more helps me with the uncertainty of the crisis and is also the gift of the crisis."
Patricia Fuentes Burns Covid Chronicles Photo

Patricia Fuentes Burns is a published author working on a collection of linked short stories.

You look back and remember the first thing that was just a little different. Roxane Gay’s talk at the Arlington Central Library on March 10 was thought-provoking, inspiring, fun—and unusually well stocked with hand sanitizer.

This was one of the last in-person events of a promising literary season. I’ve kept all the author talks, book launches, workshops and conferences on my calendar. The dates come and go as reminders to buy an author’s debut novel, support local bookshops, work on my own stories.

Like so much else, the literary scene has reinvented itself online, and I find myself able to participate more fully in the virtual world. Author talks and writing workshops are streamed daily and I can attend without leaving my home or family. My book clubs meet more frequently for conversation and friendship. I talk shop with other writers whenever I need advice or motivation, whereas it used to take us weeks to find time for coffee.

Best of all, with some of my day freed up, I have a good stretch of time in the morning to write before my family or job need me, and pockets of time all through the day to read.

Words comfort and words heal. Being able to read and write more, things I always loved but had limited time for, helps me with the uncertainty of the crisis and is also the gift of the crisis.

Many of us are having conversations about how this time will influence our future. What have we discovered that we will keep? What will we re-embrace with joy and gratitude that we once took for granted? And what will we resist when we leave our homes to participate in the outside world again?

What I know I’ll hold on to: words—my own and those of others.

Readers: We want to hear your stories. Send your 300-word COVID-19 story and a photo to  You can read more Covid Chronicles essays here


Categories: Covid Chronicles