R.J., back from a month long trip to Florida was there this morning. Barbara was sitting next to him. Tom was there, after a long absence. As were Terry S., Gale, Jane M. and Guida. Seven total. Enough, but not enough. Enough being, as I see it, ten. That's the perfect number, a perfect ten. But hey, it's not a perfect world. Why should I have the audacity to think it's going to be a perfect workshop every week? Who am I?
And numbers are just that. Quantity. Who needs it? Quality's the thing, and that number's One.
Who am I? I'm the facilitator of the creative writing workshop at The Guild. We meet every Wednesday. Start at 10 a.m Wrap it up at 11:30 a.m. It's my job to hand out the assignments. Run the meetings. Give everyone there a chance to read aloud what they've written. Give everyone a chance to comment on what they've just heard.
It's not unlike this blog. But vastly different. The difference being there's eye contact.
There was no eye contact with Norman today. R.J.'s buddy Norman, a long time member of the group. WWII veteran. Renaissance Man. French Canadian scholar. Textile mill mavin to dye for. Norman.
Norman hasn't been to class lately. He's been battling that Big C. He'd planned to come this morning. R.J. said he went to pick him up, but the ambulance had beat him to it.
" They took him to South County Hospital, " R.J. said. " I'm gonna drive over there and see how he's doin'. After class. "
We all bent over backwards giving R.J. directions to the hospital. Told him what exit to take off of Route 1. What left to take after the left he'd take off the ramp.
" It's the exit near the marina, " I said. Look for the boats, all shrink wrapped in white plastic... "
What I didn't say was, " Like furniture covered in a house that's not lived in. " And I didn't mention safe harbors.
Norman is an amazing man and I wish I had the words to describe him. Amazing doesn't work, but it will have to do for right now. He fought in WWII, that " Good War. " Returned to the states and worked in the mills and took copious notes.
He's been a part of the writing group for nearly three years. He writes poems and stories, and he's very good with French Canadian dialect. But the things I like most are the things he's written about his time in the mills. The mills like the mills in which my mother and father worked long hours for little pay and no recognition.
Norman hasn't been feeling well lately. He was not there today. He was not among those who read their work aloud. But his voice was heard. That French Canadian accent. Those poems. Those stories born in the mills. Norman spoke to us today and we gave him some feedback.
Well written, Norman. And tres bon read. Tres bon!