The Writing Life
And now for something completely different….
Four weeks ago, I started a class at NSCAD on creative non-fiction called “The Writing Life” taught by a writer named James Leck, author of a series of Young Adult novels called “The Adventures of Jack Lime”. Four weeks in, and I’m shocked at just how much I’ve learned from this guy in such a short time, and just how much better my writing can (and will!) be. The following is an example of homework I might submit to the class – a class I so actively participate in I even annoy myself – but instead of reading it aloud to ten other students, I’m putting it out there for all the world to see. Not my usual humorous fare to be certain, but I hope you’ll enjoy it nonetheless…
The coffee shop in downtown Halifax serves as my office space, its patrons my characters in waiting. I listen as the pretty blonde girl at the next table over tells her gay best friend she’s decided to leave her boyfriend of two years. He had hyped a present all day yesterday – she wondered if it was a ring, or at least a piece of jewellery, but instead it was a cheese grater. “A freakin’ cheese grater” she says, “can you imagine? And he thought I’d be excited and GRATEFUL?” Her BFF’s just moved back from Ottawa. He has blonde streaks in his hair and wears a charcoal grey sweater two sizes too small. I listen as they giggle over all the partying they’ll do once cheese grater boy’s gone. Its sounds like some bad murder mystery plot as they gleefully plan his unsuspected demise. I wonder if she’s been unhappy for some time, and her friend’s timely arrival back in the city created an opportunity to escape she simply couldn’t refuse.
I watch another young couple, clearly on a first date. I first assume it’s a blind date, someone’s set them up, with some thought they’d simply be perfect for one another. He’s nervous, and I can smell the cinnamon and nutmeg he heaps in grand amounts, with shaky hands, in his latte from across the room. ( I think I would’ve ordered coffee. Certainly nothing with the words “tall” or “skinny” or “half caff” in them, and definitely not strung together.). Alas, it is an online meet up, as I hear the guy say he’s never been comfortable trying out Plenty of Fish, but all his best girl friends had met their significant others that way. He winks at her and says, even still, he’d suggest they not tell his mother this is how they met. He smiles broadly at this joke, giving her a hopeful look. I think bringing up other women on a first date is just bad form, especially your mama. She’s here for a drink and a chat, not a life long commitment. Soon it becomes quickly apparent he’s lost her. Her face is more guarded now, she’s not laughing quite so hard at his jokes, and then I see her texting madly, under the table, imagining she’s talking to her best girl friend and saying get me the hell out of here!