On Monday, I went to speak at a lit class at my alma mater. They studied my short story and were even writing papers on it.
I’d planned to get up early to pretty myself up. I was even going to break out the flat iron so instead of having weirdly curly hair, I’d be sporting a sleek bob, and I could feel all professional and whatnot. But while I was making coffee, J snuck into the shower, and by the time he was done, I had 30 minutes to get out the door.
It’s important in my getting ready time to always figure in ten minutes that completely disappear from time and space. Ten minutes gone into nothingness, plus five for showering, two to cover a zit, another two for mascara and lip balm, a minute to dab some concealer on the jet lag bags that will not leave my under eye area, and three cursing the evil hair dresser who robbed me of 18 inches of hair in December, making a cute ponytail impossible even 8 months later — this left me with seven minutes to brush my teeth, get dressed, and do the shoes/keys/purse search.
So not only did my hair not get the flat iron treatment, it didn’t even get a chance to rendezvous with the hair drier, and I had to drive to school with the air vents going full blast in an attempt to look somewhat pulled together when I got there. Thankfully, aside from a slightly cowlicky curl on the right side of my head (which I tucked behind my ear – problem solved), and an all over backward windswept look, the vents didn’t do a bad job. I didn’t feel sleek, but I was completely presentable, and I made it to campus with time to spare. I spent this time walking slowly so I could check that my weird curl was staying tucked behind my ear in my reflection in the rectangles of glass on doors to empty offices and classrooms.
The class was awesome. The students were very enthusiastic about the story. The professor told me beforehand that he wanted to leave the floor open to student questions, but would step in and ask something if there was a lull, but there was a pretty steady stream of questions the whole time. We talked about the themes I dealt with in the story, how character moves story for me, how I approach character development, and about some of the cultural and social things that were going on in 1982, when the story takes place.
Then we talked about submitting work, the query process, working in a writing group, being thick-skinned about rejection, and revising.
I’d been so nervous about speaking to the class, but once I got to the classroom, I was fine. In my past life, I was a manager at a corporate office, and had to run meetings with my team every week. This was so much easier. I was talking about a story I know inside and out, instead of fumbling with a bunch of meaningless numbers and stats, and no one in the room was pissed at me for a raise they didn’t get or having to work the day after Thanksgiving.
And damn, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing it feels to know that THESE KIDS STUDIED MY STORY! And they liked it.