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Writing at Wesleyan

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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