Prompt: Write About a Virus

Discussion questions: Write about a virus. That time you were eight and stayed home from school with the flu and discovered a new book. That time a trojan horse destroyed your computer and you lost the 100,000-word novel you were working on. That time in 2020 when that thing happened.


I hope we never hear or read or say the word virus more than we have in 2020. For most of us, that word has daily been top of mind, or at the very least, humming always in the background. Even if you think it’s some kind of hoax (and I know some of you do), it’s still a presence.

Did you know virus has five plural forms? The most proper (the properest) are viruses and virusses. Vira is acceptable, but rarely used. Viri and virii are poo-poohed, but obviously they’re the most fun (the funnest).

I stared hard at the word and tried to think of what I’d write, using it as a prompt. I don’t really feel like writing more about COVID-19. I can’t think of ever experiencing a particularly harsh viral illness; a few bouts of flu that kept me in bed for a week, one of which led to me quitting smoking, for a few months.

Virii affect our computers, as well. Some of you are reading this post on a virus-infested computer and you probably don’t even know it! I’ve had a few. I’ve lost some writing. Nothing life-altering, or at least nothing life-shattering.

So far, I’ve gotten lucky. Vira haven’t impacted my life in a brutal way. But they’re out there, waiting, hoping for me to walk right into them or for me to invite them in.

How have viri affected your life? What did Coronavirus do to your 2020? Has a virus ever landed you in the hospital? Or steamrolled through your computer and wiped out all of your hard work?


david blogWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

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