January 13, 2009

From the Trenches of the Lower East Side Holy Writer's Club

I'm going to write about writing because ultimately I want to get paid to write. I would be happy if someone wanted to give me health insurance to blog. I would even write research papers about tables and chairs. I just like words and putting them together. Today a sales rep wrote "verticle" instead of "vertical," and I nearly choked on my sugar dense tea latte. Spelling mistakes are disgusting.

Anyway, the story begins when I signed up for free writing workshops from the Gotham Writing School in NYC last week. I almost didn't go today, because all day I just wanted a nap and a Friday instead of a cube on a Tuesday. The class was from 7-8p and at 6:15 I found out it was too late to cancel my spot and I had to just go so I wouldn't feel guilty about it. Whatever, it's only an hour. So I took the 6 to Bleecker Street from work and walked a little bit too far on Bowery so I wound up in the slums of the Lower East Side wearing Via Spiga, Uggs and a preppy Italian scarf. Clearly I should stay on the West side above 14th Street at all times. So I blasted my white, suburban music a little louder and stormed past some homeless people, a few abandoned buildings, and a lot of trendy Asians.  I tried to look hard core so I didn't stand out so much, but I think I needed some spandex. At least I'm not blonde right now.

I backtracked and found the place. Not just any old building, but the YMCA. Immediately I think of charities, religion, pools, and single teenage moms. I don't know why, but I do. I went to the class and it sort of inspired me to write a memoir about the "Mom and Her Wrench of a Boyfriend" debacle that has been building for the last decade. I definitely have material and I definitely have enough sarcasm to make it mildly entertaining and relatable. Why not? I was thinking that I could write it with my sisters, so the reader gets some different perspectives on one situation and then we can divide the profits or pay for Mom's nursing home in the future. Ha ha just kidding, I think. 

I learned that to write a memoir or a story or build a character, you have to put the character in a tree, throw rocks at him and then get him down from the tree.  And now we are back in first grade and "the dog ran." It would be run to throw rocks though. 

The class was very rudimentary but exactly as I imagined. Big classroom, some chalk, a bunch of notebooks and a few annoying volunteers. Whenever a writer writes, on some level they think their work is decent. People who hate writing or can't think of words don't waste their time just for fun. Blogging is inherently self-serving and egotistical because who really cares? Honestly I write this to vent and I tell my sisters to read it whenever I update. I don't care who else sees it, but I guess maybe I think I'm entertaining sometimes. Not right now, but when I rant perhaps? So when people volunteer to read their 5 minute writing exercise out loud in a free workshop, they come across as arrogant and weird. They are so smug about it! Also their stories are stereotypical wannabe writer fluff. They write about their roommates or their commute or protesting in a forest. This is why I am not published and I don't submit my work and I don't volunteer in class. It's hard to put yourself out there and be original in front of a jury of peers. We're all really the same. We have different experiences and perspectives, but underneath the black cloaks and ugly sweaters, we're all just animals with advanced brain functions. It's silly to think we're great at anything. 

When I left, I was laughing to myself because the event was just so average and predictable. Nothing even remotely interesting happened. To add to the typical NY evening, I had to take the gross F train to the 14th St. Path and of course it's creepy and a rat ran past me on the platform and I almost jumped onto the tracks trying to escape. Once again, I wish I had a blow gun in my pocket. I was practically running to transfer at 14th and this old, haggard woman was going down the steps one at a time every five minutes and yelling something about "suffering." I'm like shut the hell up for the next five minutes and just be happy you're alive! Your life probably isn't as bad as you imagine and no one cares anyway. This is Manhattan. We don't look each other in the eye, let alone pity our neighbor. Get out of my GD way! 

When the Path came, I actually jumped for joy discreetly. I love Hoboken and my expensive apartment overlooking Wall Street. In fact, tomorrow I think I will skip my writing workshop, because I don't need to know how to write a story. I just need a kick in the ass to do it. I also need an attention span that lasts longer than 5 seconds so that one of my ideas (or dating interests?) can prevail and I can finally get out of my cube...


  1. Now I think you kind of understand how I feel about my own sub-par education. I have plenty of written material for your compilation if you want it..you know how I worked my ass off last semester writing and re-writing my memoir for that dumb english teacher who still only gave me a B-. Yea well it's my own GD life and I'll write my own GD memoir how I want it! Do you know she actually said, now get this: Don't get emotionally involved. I'm like what?! Seriously? This is my life! My life story! Obviously there are emotions in the mix. Whatever. Sorry to rant in your comment box. I like the illustrations and the part about how we're all the same, but we see things differently.

  2. You are entertaining sometime on a dull Saturday. :-)

  3. haha omggg lol i love the story of the old haggard woman and i am in on the compilation of stories. Also nice title hahah