Thursday, September 5: Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered. My senior year of college, I really wanted to take this creative nonfiction class with one of my favorite professors, L. I so admired L--she was smart, witty, honest and kind with a big smile continually present on her face, but most of all, she was one of those professors who could tap into the hearts of her students, even the ones taking English classes only as a requirement. I remember stopping by her office to basically pitch the concept of my taking her class independent study, and she responded, "Welcome! When can we start?"
I looked forward to those afternoon meetings every week, where I sat in a hard wooden chair across from her in a tiny office. She gave me all sorts of mini-assignments in addition to the curriculum of the class: go on a walk and write down a description of every person you see, or eavesdrop on a conversation and write down every sad or funny thing you overhear. L favored the power of observation, as any good writer does, and she passed along those tools. Many of our conversations about my essays resulted in her saying, "But what else?"
L continually pushed me to get to the clear truth, no matter how many rewrites it took, and I think that's true in both writing and life.
The tricky part? Everyone's truth is different, which means everyone is responsible for figuring out what it is, and why, and how to live alongside it. It also means that your life on any given day might need some rewriting, because what's true often changes. But I try to utilize that mindset as frequently as possible, because it reminds me that first, I need to continually find and live by what matters most to me, and second, I can start over at any time and try again.