I went back to college yesterday…not to visit my daughter in college…or to do a college tour with my son…I went to college for me…I went to Rutgers University’s Spring Writers’ Conference…to learn how to be a better writer.
But, “am I a writer?,” I thought to myself as I sat among the literary crowd…it did feel good to consider myself a writer like some of the others in the room… a full-fledged writer…at least for one whole day.
I went to workshops in the morning on Creative Non-Fiction with published author Jane Bernstein, who also teaches at Carnegie Mellon…and I went to an afternoon session on Writing Memoirs with David Matthews…and I had lunch with other writers and attended the Reading after lunch…oh…I felt like such a literary person.
I listened attentively when each author read from their books. Jane Bernstein read from her story about her daughter Rachel…who has disabilities…it was such a touching story about the relationship between a mother and her daughter…and I listened to Richard McCann as he read from his upcoming memoir about his life’s ups and downs during his liver transplant…and my favorite…my favorite reading was from the poet Rachel Hadas…it was as if she were doing a personal reading to me…she read from “The River of Forgetfulness,” a book of her poems…yes…it was her poem called “The Gift” that so resonated with me…of course I had to buy this book of poetry…and I’ve re-read “The Gift” several times this weekend…it is so great…I have to share it:
Women in their fifties
are the recipients of an equivocal gift
Not yet conspicuous for being decrepit,
we’re evidently more than old enough
to turn transparent. And this new cloaked state
enables us to hear astonishing
news from friends, acquaintances, and sometimes
strangers, all of whom do not so much
look at as through us; lean in, then gaze out
over our shoulders in search of something
Why am I telling you this?
I more and more am asked. Because I’m here,
and am invisible. At just the moment
life draws one concealing curtain, though,
another veil is being lifted. Youth’s
haze disperses, and I see distinctly
through the one-way mirror of the years.
What a glorious poem…what an inspiring day…if you had asked me a year ago if I would be spending a Saturday…a precious Saturday in April at a writer’s conference…I likely would have questioned even the proposition…but now…now I am 50…I am a writer…I am proud of my prose…and it feels good to be among the literary crowd.