Last week my dear friend Yvonne and I took our kids bowling. We attempted to go earlier in the week to the only bowling alley our city has, but unfortunately the bowling alley was full of summer camp kids and senior citizens.
Yes, senior citizens. And yes, I was surprised too. I guess the Wii systems really are paying off.
Going bowling reminded me of a time ten years ago when I took a local writing class. It was held at the Art Center in town and met once a month. The teacher was older and had curly hair. On our first day of class she wore navy blue tights with white sandals.
That should have been my first clue.
Her writing claim to fame was a cookbook series written from the point of view of a cat.
That should have been my second clue.
I was at least 40 years younger than everyone else in the class.
That should have been my third clue.
But at the time I did not catch any of the blatantly obvious clues. I was young, naive and hopeful. I had my sights set on learning the skills necessary to write books that landed on the NY Times Best Seller lists.
This was not the class for that.
Each time we met for class we would sit in a circle and read aloud one page of something we were working on. Following each persons reading the rest of the class would provide feedback.
All of the members of the class (except for one older gentleman and myself) were there to put to paper their life story. The older gentleman was there to learn how to write letters to the editor-bold, angry letters to the editor about the many faults of our fine city.
Class after class I would listen to others life stories. Some interesting and some not. But without fail, whenever someone finished reading their page aloud the rest of the class would gush with wonderful and positive feedback. Things like, "Oh Mary, the emotion you write about for five paragraphs on the inside of your childhood home brings tears to my eyes." (grab tissue and wipe eyes for maximum effect) Or "Rosita, I could feel the dust in my eyes as you wrote about that dark and dusty road you walked down for ten miles in order to give birth to your oldest son."
Very positive feedback.
One time I came to class with a piece I had been working on that in my humble opinion was brilliant. I couldn't wait to read it in class. It was a story about how my dad almost became a professional bowler (yes, it's true). I wrote about how I always wondered what my life would have been like if my dad had indeed became a professional bowler. I had imagined all the places bowling would have taken us to, like, Omaha, Nebraska or Detroit, Michigan. When I got to the end of my piece I paused and waited for the positive feedback I was sure would be coming. Instead, I was greeted by absolute silence. Not a word. I sat there in stunned silence for what felt like an eternity but was in all reality more like a minute, until my teacher spoke up and said, "Good." and then moved on.
Are you serious? A good? Not an excellent or you have potential or I can't wait to see where your writing takes you?
I should have known though. All the clues were there and they all added up to one thing...
I had not thought of that story for a long time and it makes me laugh now. Who knows, if I am fortunate maybe someday I can teach a class after I become famous for writing a cookbook from the perspective of a scorpion.
A girl can dream, can't she?