May 26


On entering a writing program, Jen Chesak, and a mentee’s prayers

By Odyssa

May 26, 2023

Nothing can fully prepare us for the surprises life brings.

When I read the positive COVID-19 test results of my mother back in April 2021, I was both shocked and overwhelmed.

How can my 70-year-old Mama survive this virus that was taking lives of the elderly?

We decided to treat her at home.  It was a tremendous effort to help her keep breathing. 

Thankfully, after twenty-one days, we were out of the woods. 

When neighborhood gardens thrived and vegetables were free, 2020.

Mama getting sick wasn't a good surprise. Getting into a Middle Tennessee State University's writing program is the total opposite.

I was optimistic with my application, as I am in all of my submissions. 

However, at the back of my mind, there was that voice telling me my skills are not good enough to pass any scholarship. Let alone one from an American university. 

But it happened, and I'm terrified by the idea of submitting a 7,000-word piece to be read by and edited by Jen Chesak, journalism professor and editor. That's my first writing assignment.

My work will end up in the hands of someone whose work appears in Washington Post, Verywell, Healthline, and other well-known publications. Jen is about to release The Psilocybin Handbook for Women next month. 

That's enough to make me feel antsy.

There's that fear of being found out aka imposter syndrome, or myself finding out that I am not made for writing, and I should probably keep it as a hobby.

However this writing program turns out, I know FOR SURE that this will be transformative, revelatory, and an encounter I will never forget. 

This is Jen's book on women's health. To be available next month!

The summer session officially begins on June 1 and runs through the end of August.  

Today is the last day of work here in Hanoi and the writing program begins next week. It couldn't have chosen a better time.  

Here are my petitions as I begin: 

To meet my deadlines. 
To find the right words to use.
To receive feedback with an open heart.  

To possess excellent absorption abilities.


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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