Anais was the first to go, of the nine of us, in the writing workshop, to introduce ourselves, briefly, Solo said (no need to ramble – we could save that for our writing), and share something of the project we’d be working on. Anais lived on a houseboat down on the Willamette and was working on memoir. Sam was a bartender working on drama. Hilda and Djuna were adjunct instructors, poets both, and partners, and they were now working together on a graphic novel, Hilda doing the writing and Djuna the drawing. Matilda was a student and waitress working on a novel. Joyce was a personal essayist and declined to say anything more of himself. Then it came my turn, and I did a show and tell, held out my little pocket notebook and said I wanted to fill it with words, but I wasn’t at all sure which ones. No one laughed. Tough crowd. Penelope was writing a novel, worked at a printing shop, supported two kids and an effete husband. Virginia was a single mom, counselor at a non-profit, working on memoir. Solo then talked for awhile about workshop etiquette and about expectations and assumptions and how preconceived ideas can ruin both writing and reading. Some of what Solo said Anais said she found liberating. We were out on the sidewalk taking a break from the workshop. Anais I guessed was in her 40’s, dark eyes buried in bushy eyebrows and thick wavy black hair she kept pushing back behind her ears, to both see and hear better I assumed. She asked me if I was joking about the little pocket notebook being my writing project.
“Workshop #1” is episode 77 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.