Writerly Things cont. again

I wrote the last editions of this series almost a year ago. I am now without a doubt in my identity, as a writer anyways, and so I cannot continue the themes of those earlier posts in the same way. For one, I’m on Wikipedia, something I always wanted but didn’t expect would happen until much much later in life. I always knew it would happen, not sure why. This isn’t even a necessarily impressive thing in itself but it’s representational of whole hell of a lot. But anyways, as I said, not here ’bout me.

Part of this newfound recognition is that people actually care what my opinion is vis-a-vis writing. Where before I was Plato, I am now Socrates (to be extremely arrogant). And in this new role, in this newfound “foundness” I am often asked by people what I think of a paragraph they wrote, or how they should begin an essay they’re at a loss with. Things like that happen all the time.

And recently, Queen’s had a fall reading week for the first time in my schooling. It was a short two days, October 25th and 26th which were a Thursday and Friday. So, all in all, I can’t complain but it wasn’t totally worth the six hour commute back to Toronto. But, I wasn’t going to stay in Kingston unless I actually had to. Good food, good friends, and my dog were all calling my name. I couldn’t deafen my ears to a call such as that.

On the car ride back, I texted my mentor. He’s a journalist, writer and editor in Toronto who’s had a career successful enough to live in the West End, in what is basically the best neighbourhood in the best city in the world. Roncesvalles is amazing and I can’t/won’t be convinced otherwise, sorry. I told him I’d be back in the city and it’d be nice to catch up. Even though the guy lives across the street from me it’s pretty tough to actually get together with him sometimes. Such is life.

Well, when he texted me back I was pleased. Being the person he is, and having the success he’s had, a woman at a charity of sorts in Toronto asked him to come on board and help out. He said yes, because he’s a good person, and one thing led to another and he now runs a writers workshop for those who’ve suffered some sort of mental episode and have been marginalized by society as a result. I don’t know how to say it better, but it’s people who’ve been pushed to the periphery because of their illnesses. People without the support of a good family, friends or the money needed to really get help in Canada. It’s not easy and there’s very little support for people like this, hence their going to a free soup kitchen in a church basement.

He told me that I’d be the featured guest of the day, he sometimes brings in writers. It livens things up for one and allows the writers who frequent it to learn something new. These people didn’t go get an English Lit degree at a school older than Canada, but they still have the same fire in the gut that I’ve got.

It was to say the least, an eventful day. I’ve never done something like this, so I was nervous. I wanted to be tactful and respect the people there without being pretentious or talking down to them. I knew that was a line I had to toe, but I also knew they were there to learn so I went into with that in mind and heart. Obviously I was apprehensive about the nature of the group, I wanted to be respectful and not stereotype them.

It was a good day, all around. I stopped worrying and instead focused on how we were all there as writers. We wanted to learn from one another, to move our craft forward.

One thing which surprised was how talented the group was. Not because I doubted their intelligence or anything silly like that. It’s more that I’ve been brought up in a very specific way, around specific people. At my high school, it was a matter of what university you wanted to go to, no ifs about it. I don’t think anyone in that group had gone to school. And the writers I’ve been brought up around all went to certain schools, worked at certain papers and I guess I didn’t realize how much this sort of thing came through in writing till now. Or at least how it does with people whose writing hits a certain bar but does not surpass it.

Good writing is universal and cannot be bounded by anything excepted for that writer’s whim. But, not everyone writing for a living is that good. I guess that’s what I learned. I hope they liked my being there cuz I sure did.

-Clay

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