wednesday weads: what i will be weading

07/07/2010 § Leave a comment

Walking into a dimly lit classroom felt familiar and nostalgic. It seemed like only yesterday that I had written my last exam and proclaimed freedom from the institution, throwing down my chains and running down the to meet Blue Velvet for a victory lap around King’s Circle, the Social Contract clutched beneath my arm.

However, over the past year, a sense of vacancy had crept in, not for the bureaucracy but the cerebral stimulation of constant questioning. Stepping into the stuffy room — a single fluorescent bulb radiating above, the awkward stillness that did not lend itself to the heat wave but to first encounters — I felt at ease. Promptly at 6:30PM, Kate Carraway, our mentor for Creative Journalism, began the class.

Her demeanor would offset some — a careless wave or roll of the eyes, her powerfully, poised presence. She came across as not someone, but something, starting the class with an introduction to who she is and what she has done. Having been a self-declared writer for the past 5 years, a blip in human history but a veteran for new wave journalism, she had an air of something to offer.

– You will have 3 written assignments all of which must be handed in at the beginning of each class. If they are handed in late, they will be marked as a zero. If you plan on handing things in late, don’t even bother being here.

As a former editor, Carraway is apparently used to deadlines:

– As a freelance writer if you don’t hand your work in on time you are unemployed.

For the next 2 and a half hours, she didn’t stop defining, explaining, chuckling and reading excerpts from some of her recommended authors. The class was awestruck by her charge, her exuded energy for a topic that we have merely been introduced to. She rhymed off authors and quoted text with a cadence that bordered on banter — eyes popping from her head with an astute awareness — doing so with a grandiose grace that one associates with a typical New Yorker: cutting and quick. I think she said she was from Toronto.

– Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Bruce Chatwin. These are people you need to make yourselves familiar with. Half of writing is reading. Any questions? Let’s move along, then.

The class remained silent, unable to get in a whisper, not that anyone needed to. Her instructions were over and beyond self-explanatory. Even the crickets nesting in the asbestos insulated roof were quieted by her thunderous sound, the tumble weeds were shaking in their boots.

Needless to say, the challenge of reading and writing is going to be great, an obstacle I hope to overcome. I look forward to her Wednesday night bombardments of suggestions and specifics, pushing everyone’s patience by whittling out the weak. I may be one of those weeds, wilting in her glare, longing for a drink from the drinking fountain in the hall. It does not matter, I anticipate the potential at growth.

– By the way, looks like all of you are note takers. Keep it that way. I don’t think anyone who brings a laptop to class is fully present so just don’t bring them.

Despite the nerves that flipped over the beer&ice cream that had stewed in my belly, I can confidently say I like her a lot.


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