Once a week, seven writers—all retired from professional careers—spend two hours together. The purpose of their gathering is to discuss what they wrote the previous week. For a number of years prior to 2020, the group met in their homes over coffee. The pandemic changed that. Members could not hug at Zoom meetings. Then on May 25th, a white policeman pressed his knee to a Black man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Other officers looked on with chilling nonchalance as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” A seventeen-year-old girl captured it all on her cellphone, and the world exploded.
The process of putting down their thoughts about the cascading events of the year helped the group weather the challenges of 2020 and beyond. Inside Writing While Masked are personal pieces—writings of the moment, essays that reflect, and poems that express raw emotion. They include thoughts about what the authors experienced and learned, and what they want for the future. Most of all, they are words of hope.
Mary Ann Gonzales has a long history of working with nonprofit social organizations, from the Seattle AIDS SUPPORT GROUP to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Tyson Greer has undertaken a broad array of endeavors including directing documentaries, teaching screen writing at the University of Washington, and authoring a book on technology for Microsoft Press. She is now writing fiction. Wanda Herndon has enjoyed a successful corporate career in marketing, retiring from Starbucks as senior vice president, Global Public Affairs, after which founded W Communications. Laura Celise Lippman is a retired medical doctor and administrator whose poems have appeared in Crosswinds, Poontoon Poetry, Mobius, The Journal of Social Change, and other publications. Jane Spalding started out as a teacher, and then served as development director for several nonprofits, including Harborview Medical Center and Seattle University. Suzanne Tedesko worked at KCTS/9, producing two national PBS documentaries, and has written Seattle guidebooks for Fodors and a screenplay. Beth Weir was a professor of education at Meredith College in Raleigh for seventeen years and after moving to Seattle, the executive director of the Dunn Gardens.
“Individually and collectively their observations…are beautifully written, heartfelt and insightful pieces. They have brought their array of experiences, frustrations, sorrows, delights, comforts, and more to life.”
—Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, PhD, Auxiliary Professor, Center for One Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Washington
“Seven retired women—longtime friends and aspiring writers—who started recording and sharing their own reflections of the last year…seek to capture the life the pandemic has created, and dismantled.”
“I don’t ever want to forget the pandemic’s momentous events, disappointments, and gifts. This thoughtful book [provides] a reflection and reminder of this unique time.”
—Ruth Kagi, retired Washington State Representative
“Each writing is an exploration of discovery, mystery, danger, worry, resiliency, and patience. The contributors responded to this experience from diverse angles and their engaging personal views give us what will be seen forever as an historical contribution.”
—Yvonne Higgins Leach, author, Another Autumn
“Keen observations of the small dramas, the solace of nature, politics and the relationships that sustain us during a dark time…a wonderful book by wise writers, a time capsule that captures what it means to be human in the time of Covid.”
—Nancy Blakey, author, By the Shore: Explore the Pacific Northwest like a Local and The Mountains Are Calling: Year-Round Adventures in the Olympics and West Cascades
Illustrations / maps / notes / bibliography / index / 208 pages (2022)
ISBN 978-1-63864-001-1 Paperback