Today I visited two creative writing classes at Beverly High School. I graduated cough-mumble-mumble-cough years ago and hadn’t been in the building since graduation. It was wild seeing the school again, which is in the middle of a giant renovation phase. Everything looked smaller than I remembered it to be. Including the teachers! (well, I am 6’4 now, and was only 6’0 upon graduation) The construction had me a bit turned around, but I managed to find my old locker and stuffed myself inside it for old times sake.
Mrs. Harmony Desmond Stacey graciously allowed me to come and chat to her two classes. At BHS, creative writing is a mixed-grade elective, so sophomores, juniors, or seniors can take the course. Harmony prepped the students well, inundating them with a bunch of my short stories and chapters. The students asked a lot of good questions–ranging from ‘where do you get your ideas?’ to ‘do you decide on themes before writing the story?’– and I blustered my way through some answers that I hope were helpful, or at least interesting. There weren’t any Beuller? Beuller? moments during the Q&A so I took that as a good sign. I found myself saying “Steal from everyone” a lot, because it’s true.
There was an added bonus of today being “dress like a Nerd day” for seniors. Lots of creative and outlandish outfits. And I fit right in, unfortunately. *shakes old man fist at the young whipper snappers!*
I was very pleased that more than a few students knew who Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palanhiuk were, and some even knew the band Neutral Milk Hotel. I told them my short story “The Two-Headed Girl” was inspired by “Two-Headed Boy,” off their Aeroplane Over the Sea masterwork. All in all, a fun afternoon!
Special thanks to Harmony for hosting me, and of course to my former teachers Ms. Betty Taylor, Mr. Mike LaPenna, and Mr. Skip Tobin for taking time out to chat with me. Um, I’m sorry if I still owe you some homework….