I enjoy the hell out of the people on my blogroll. They’ve made me laugh, cry, and say “Oooh, yuck!’ Sometimes all in the same post. I’m lucky enough to know a couple of them in real life. Like Michael, who’s the author of “Always going, going, going on beyond.”
I met Michael in a writing class. The class was a last minute decision; the instructor I really wanted wasn’t teaching until the spring, so I settled on a class with her boyfriend. (That word seems so insufficient for people over 40. Can someone come up with something better? “Partner” has gay connotations (which is OK if you’re gay, misleading if you’re not), “lover” is just…weird.) Settled is probably the wrong word: he’s a great teacher, and his classes are wonderful.
I always try to get to a new class early, and head straight for the back row. Not for the same reasons I did in high school. When you’re actually paying to learn, passing notes and giggling aren’t really part of the equation. As a “grown up”, I sit there to avoid notice. Because here’s the thing: I feel like an impostor. It’s easy enough to think you’re a writer when all you do is plunk away at your laptop in your safe, warm, non-judgmental living room. But when you’re under stark fluorescents in an adult-ed classroom, it’s harder to fool yourself. I’m immediately convinced that everyone there: a) has more talent on the bottom of their shoe than I do, and b) thinks I/my writing suck out loud.
I was late. I ended up in the front row. Way out of my element. The first real exercise the instructor had us do was to think of a room from childhood, and write a list of words to go with it. People read their lists aloud. The instructor asked me for mine, I read my words.
“What do these lists have in common?” The instructor looked around, waiting for someone to answer.
“They’re all pretty bland.” Oh christ, here we go again, I thought. I didn’t know who this guy was. But I was convinced he was going to be the younger, non-British version of an insufferable pompous twit in the last writing class I’d taken. Pompous British Guy was so convinced of his own talents that he came to class just to tear others down. (When one woman read her short story, he told her it ‘read like an especially dry real estate listing’. To her credit, she didn’t let any of the tears actually fall. But she never came back, either.) And this guy was going to criticize others on the first day?
But the thing was, this guy was right. I had been thinking the same. I just didn’t have the grapes to say it.
The next week, I did get there early. And I completely broke pattern and sat next to the guy who criticized. Still not sure why. We had ample fodder for small talk; we’re both married, both have kids. We both raised our eyebrows/rolled our eyes at the same annoying people in class. And after the first real assignment, I realized he wrote the way I want to when I grow up.
I’m sure people who click on my link from his blog think there’s been a mistake. He’s a Buddhist. He writes beautifully, sometimes seriously, thoughtfully. I swear and make bathroom jokes. Whatever. I like his writing, and he’s gracious enough to find good things in mine. I’m happy I sat by him.
Go visit his blog. I like his photos almost as much as his words. (Check out the picture “Energy to Burn” in this post.) And for heaven’s sakes, comment. Lurkers are creepy.