Friday, January 25, 2013

College class, writer's block, wine-tasting, and learning to say spliff and not joint.



Was I ever this young and fresh-faced?

 Had a pleasant college campus experience yesterday at the University of La Verne. Read and discussed my short story, "Lana Turner Slept Here," in Estella Gonalez' writing class. The students were upperclassmen, but they were so young. Babies!  Their writing assignment was to write a short piece in the opposite sex's POV. Lot of hip-hop dating and grooming advice, and one moving piece called "How to be a good son" written in the voice of the mom.

How do you deal with writer's block? one student asked. 

I've never had it. Unless you count the twenty years when I worked another career as writer's block. Not until I felt dissatisfied with my life, and landed one serendipitous Monday night in Aimee Bender's Intro to Fiction class at UCLA, did the block lift.

In high school, daydreaming and reading were my escape from a brutal existence. I was as addicted to daydreaming in college as some people are to their cell phones now. In the beginning college was tough for me. I had to learn discipline. I did. Learned it so well that my fantasy life stopped.  Perfect for a business career wherein I set goals and met them.  Aimee emphasized surrealism and magical realism that semester, and it set my imagination free. Daydreaming returned!  Only this time, I wrote down my imaginings.  

But I didn't lose my hard-won discipline. I finish what I start.

The day in La Verne was not all work. After class we adjourned to The Wine Bar and enjoyed the wine tasting being offered outside. Reds. Other faculty soon surrounded us. A busy street, Arrow Parkway, was on one side of us, and at one point I smelled cannabis from a passing car. Anyone whose read my work knows that scent plays heavily in the setting (In "Lana Turner" it's orange blossoms). "Someone's smoking a joint," I said. Whereupon, I learned that joint is no longer cool, and spliff is the "in" word.  

Always eager to learn a new word, but the really cool thing is I get to tell you about it.