Fluffy pink pen and composition book in hand, I push on the door and squint through the crack.
There are several rows of black chairs leading up to the pulpit. Most of the rows have people in them.
I can’t believe I’m late.
I thought I had plenty of time to get here.
The speaker’s voice floats through the crack.
I might as well go in. I slip through the door and duck down in the back.
No one seems to have noticed me. Yet.
Notebook open, I position my pen on a blank page and wait for the first gem of wisdom.
Our speaker is a renowned speaker and writer and today he will be teaching us how to write our very own novel.
My pen is flying across the page as he lists the most important things for every writer to do. I have always wanted to be a famous novelist, or at least a good columnist like Jamie Barker.
Write everyday, learn grammar, increase vocabulary and attend classes. I pause. That sounds like a lot to do just to write a story.
The lady next to me frowns. “My dear,” She whispered. “You don’t have to take notes for such trivial things.”
I make a mental note to research trivial. It must have something to do with that IQ test I failed. If I don’t write something down, it doesn’t make sense at all.
The class continues.
Now we are going to do writing exercises.
Mr. Famous Speaker is spouting off clever tricks with sentences and spreadsheets.
I hate spreadsheets.
Little scrolls and doodles adorn the edges of my earlier list. My ears are stuffy and my eyes are tired. I shall drown in boredom.
Before I know it I am fast asleep.
I know this, because someone took it upon themselves to wake me as the class ended.
A young woman with eyes too bright and a concerned smile, her lips move to speak. “Are you all right?” She has perfect chocolate-colored tresses that cascade down her shoulders, appearing more like an actress than a writer-wannabe.
I nod carefully, checking to be sure I have everything with me. “Just fine.” I tuck my notebook under one arm and my fluffy pen in my ponytail. “Thank you.”
I am almost to the door before she calls me.
“It is not that hard.”
The scent of jasmine surrounds me as I turn to see her again. There is no one else in sight, so I assume the remark was intended for me.
She laughs. “I saw you come in.” She nudged me out the door. “Writing isn’t just roses and book signings. It takes time, patience and a good bit of work.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Are you a novelist?”
She hesitated. “No.” I smiled politely and started down the hall. “But I am a writer.”
Her voice traveled down the hall and tugged on me one last time. “Writing means you’re willing to put some effort into the whole mix. It means writing something even when you don’t feel like. Changing things to fit another’s instructions and keeping your promises.”
I try to think of polite way to tell her that I don’t need her advice. “I uh, appreciate your advice, Miss-”
“Barker.” She tucks a business card inside my jacket pocket. “Jamie Barker. I’m not a novelist, but I would say that I can write a little something.” She smiles. “Look me up when you’re ready to start small. Trying to write something big can be overwhelming, but working your way up to it, is much easier.”
Her hand lingered on my shoulder, with one last smile before she started down the hall.
I watched her go as the familiar, funny feeling starts in my stomach. The kind of feeling where you’re trying so hard to do something before Mom stops by to inspect. She shakes her head and starts rearranging. “Oh honey, that’s not the way to do it, try this way.” And before you can protest, she’s fixed it. You’re about to complain until you realize that she’s made sense from your senseless tangle of whatever.
The business card seemed to shimmer, wavering and I jammed it into my jeans pocket. I pictured my pride as a wad of licorice and grimaced swallowing the imaginary lump. “Miss Barker? Miss Barker, wait up!”
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