№13 The Memoir Writing Students

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

The memoir writing students walk into the classroom. They are bummed when they see the room — the dirty walls and the fluorescent lights in tubes on the ceiling that actually hum. The students are like, “This is where the magic happens?” They are aware of that tired cliché.

The students walk into the classroom with laptops or just the right composition notebook, like the ones they used in third grade when they first learned cursive. They come in with the perfect pens, which are Papermate 1.0 M with blue ink or maybe a whole set of felt tip markers for colorful doodles in the margins, which help keep them awake. Students walk in with walkers because otherwise that little metal ridge on the floor in the door jamb less than a half-inch high could lead to a broken wrist. Students walk in with their migraine medicine already digested. Those meds take away the ability to conjure up words, a cruel joke that is not lost on the writing students. The students walk in with two lives taken, seven to go. They walk in with dead parents and spouses and even children. They walk in with hearing aids and glasses, of course. Some wear glasses just for reading because even though they never needed glasses before, they’re way past 42, the year their eyes went out of focus. They come in with moms who fucked them up big time, not by being perfect — listening with Dumbo ears, supporting lofty dreams like when the students said, “When I grow up, maybe I’ll become a brain surgeon or a Supreme Court Justice,” and the mom said, “Anything, you can do anything.” And then later said, “Anything, you can do anything, except love a woman.”

The students walk in with big dreams about becoming famous and just as big insecurities about sucking as writers. They worry they’re never going to be as good as Joyce Carol Oates or Steven King or how about David Sedaris? They fear they’re years behind because they misspent their youths playing with the twin boys next door and drawing what a vagina looks like with chalk on the sidewalk instead of reading and learning about everything, especially the rhythm of language in stories because everyone knows the best way to become a good writer is to read. They walk in hoping to be the one their teacher notices. The one he’ll remember because these are memoir writing students and they all want attention, pathologically so. They want to be heard and known. They walk in wanting to be loved.

This is №13 of my #weeklyessaychallenge. Ray Bradbury said, “Write a short story every week. It’s impossible to write 52 bad short stories.” When I turned 50, I took on his challenge.