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Joseph Van Bruaene: December 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge Runner-Up

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Joe Van BruaeneCongratulations to Joseph Van Bruaene for being a Runner-Up for the December 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge!

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

What has nine months of pandemic living brought forward in your life that you are grateful for?

Joseph wrote about how his life changed during the pandemic – with an unusual twist. Enjoy his submission:


Like most people with a “typical” job, my life changed quite dramatically at the start of the pandemic… with a slight twist.

As the outbreak was on its way to becoming a pandemic, changes at work started with a slowing of hours and finished with “essential” personnel only — which I was not.

It actually started out to be quite enjoyable.

I was able to spend time at home with my wife and our young son. I found myself enjoying some wonderful paid time off. I was, and am, one of the lucky few doing well during this tough time. I have my health, my job, and many reasons to be grateful.

Unlike most people, though, I knew my time at home would end on April 1.

You see, my job isn’t quite what most people think of as typical. But before I get to that, back to the question at hand: What has the pandemic brought forward in my life that I am grateful for?

I obviously can’t be grateful for the writer’s life… at least not yet. My job requires me to work long hours and be away from home for long stretches at a time — leading to excuses and procrastination.

But like most people, I find myself with more time on my hands than ever before. And I’m doing everything in my power to take advantage of that gift.

I’ve done more in the past nine months than I have in the last nine years — at least as far as my writing career is concerned. 

So what do I have to be grateful for? Every day I’m making progress. So far, I’ve…

… Completed the Accelerated Copywriting program — and I am now AWAI verified.

… Completed the Secrets of Writing Blockbuster Financial Market Controls program.

… Read a dozen books on marketing and copywriting by AWAI and other A-list copywriters.

… Written two sales letters and entered two contests — including this one.

… And I’m looking forward to writing my financial sales letter as a part of the AWAI Roadmap.

Although these small steps haven’t landed me any paid assignments, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write and put myself out there.

Little steps are creating confidence and moving me forward. I find myself happier in other areas of my life as well. And that’s saying something, considering the year we’ve endured.

So what’s the twist for my pandemic life?

I’ve been deployed since April 1. Although I haven’t left my “home” in nine months like most people, it’s for slightly different reasons. Life on board a U.S. aircraft carrier makes that difficult.

While most are growing tired of their families, homes, and daily lives… I long to be home again. Even in these trying times for everyone, gratitude keeps me humble for everything I do have.

And I owe a debt gratitude to AWAI for enabling me to make life-changing strides towards a new career in these trying times.

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