Writing at Wesleyan

June 23, 2016

Waking up in a strange bed, looking around, realizing that I am not in my element.  It’s 5:45 a.m.  At home, I would leap out of bed (okay, maybe not leap), make myself a cup of chaga elixir or some kombucha tea, eat some breakfast, then head to the gym.  Here, I am restless.  Nothing starts until eight – late for me, early for others.  Everyone around me is a stranger and, yet, somehow, we’re all the same.

Writers: A strange and varied set of people who are inextricably linked by the fact that each of us believes that we have a tale to tell.

I say hello.  They say hello back.  We network.  Networking is a pendulum which swings between intensely fascinating and unbearably boring conversation.  Have you ever noticed that some people speak in monologues?  One guy talks for twenty-five minutes without asking me a single question about myself.  I know because I check my watch – discreetly at first, then more obviously, and, finally, with exasperation.

“I’m hungry,” I say, even though I’m not, and make my exit.

Evidently, people understand hunger, whereas social cues, not so much.  Anyway, despite Mr. Monologue, the conference is great.  I meet a social worker with a story.

“Tell me more,” I say.  Then I listen, riveted, to her journey.

Memoirs are interesting.

And poetry?  I can identify well-written verse, but, when I try to write it, all I want to do is rhyme.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

If I were a poet,

Well then I’d be screwed.

What about the classes?  I go to every one of them.  From nine a.m. to nine p.m. I listen attentively to people far more educated than I and feel at once encouraged and inadequate.  Apparently, MFAs are all the rage.  Who am I this thirty-two year with a powerful dream but no credentials?

And, yet, they talk about writer’s block, a phenomenon I have yet to experience.

Maybe that’s why some writers write one book and never write again.  Or take a long hiatus after completing a manuscript.  Part of me is glad that that’s not my experience.  Another part of me remembers my agent’s advice to “bleed onto the page.”

So here I am learning how to slice open my veins and – ironically – loving every minute of it.

 

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