Creative Writing Essentials Wraps.

Eight weeks ago I was thrown into the deep end of a course I’d never taught before (not exactly) in a community college I’d never been to, with seven students I didn’t know. We met every Wednesday night between 6 and 8 pm, after work, hungry and tired, in an empty boardroom somewhere in the city. After the last class we all went out for farewell drinks. How many writers does it take to find a quiet bar on game night? State of Origin. North against South. Us v Them. Blue v Maroon.

Pale blue jerseys and surly barkeeps everywhere. The game projected on the sides of buildings, on high-def screens large and small. No cabs in sight. The restaurants empty. Everyone at home or at the pub, and no talking unless you’re screaming or buying a drink, or you want a punch to the throat. Except there we are in our sweaty power-suits and teacher’s drag, stories in our heads and words the only game in town.State of Origin 2014

There were five of us left. Two drop-outs (my lost American went back to LA; my Indian dreamer caught up in home and work duties), and the scruffy poet a no show. We missed him. His absurdist ramblings with a healthy disrespect for tense and time and which left an indelible image burned on the soul (a vast vaporous train station where the train never comes, a bus bisecting a desert path to nowhere). So it was just us. We found an upstairs room in a big noisy bar and got to know each other a little better. All but one of us comes from somewhere else.

Between them one publishable story, the beginning chapters of a novel and a travel memoir, and from the Ukrainian auto-didact, a vivid take on a mother-son encounter. Each with a new path carved from their hearts to their eyes and their ears and their tongues. Their fingertips telling them that the world is now a different place.

And the school offered me two more classes. Go the Blues!


The most important life skill is to learn to be loved. If, like me, life has taught you otherwise, and that you are unlovable, you had better unlearn in three, two, one. We’ll do it together. Now. Today is the day. Whatever it takes. I am with you. Fight Club, Glee Club. I’ll be over your shoulder for that awkward coffee with your daughter or your mom. I’ll be beside you at the bar for office drinks or watching the game with your dad or your room mate or playing Orphan Black with some chick in China or letting your new brother-in-law into your studio. I’ll be with you on that blind date or Facebooking her afterwards, or holding your newborn for the first time or taking your grandson to Mickey D’s or wondering if your ex will get the kids back by dinner time Sunday or typing ‘The End’ all alone, because you aren’t. I am with you in Rockland. Allen, how are you, you old so-and-so? You are loved. Love is the crumbs you’ve left in the forest (eyed by wrens atop the Golden Arches, fuck-you, this is my grandson). There are some crumbs left and it isn’t quite dark yet (pick up the phone). There’s still time to get out (the leaves are golden, the Aspens call). Still time to get home (the wolves are a dream). Where he waits.

Wait for me.

A friend told me the other day that the novel she just finished was not the one she wanted to write. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that the sound we hear as we tap, or type, or scribble? The sound of our own heartbeat, and maybe we’re panting a little, maybe even sobbing, as the words get away from us yet again, and the story runs away with our soul?

A crappy deal, whichever way you look at it.