They came from California, and Texas, and Philly--with ideas that were all over the map. The critically acclaimed and the self-acclaimed, gathered together for three days of readin', writin', and regurgitatin'.
A hundred intrepid writers...and me...there of a morbid curiosity, determined not to listen to anything with too much conviction, lest I turn stupid again and self-conscious about my work.
A haven where, for a fee, the voiceless can have their manuscripts--and womanlyscripts--poked, prodded, and given a thorough physical by an expert word surgeon who then conducts an emergency operation--first to remove the guts, then to take out the heart, then to had it back to you and say, "You can sew it up now!" (A woman beside me is quietly sobbing over her treatise...which didn't pull through the operation.)
In a workshop exercise an author tells us to write a story--in ten minutes time--based on the fable of Cain and Abel. I want to kill him for that.
So instead, I write some drivel about a slob named Frankie, who walks into the G-Spot Diner--a greasy spoon saloon--plops down on his favorite stool, hails the waitress, opens his mouth to speak and-
"TIMES UP," shouts the lecturer. "Now, who wants to read their story?"
The guest poet--who is from the School of Endless Tinkering--declares that the trouble with Ginsberg was that he didn't rewrite. If the guy had thought of it, he might have taken a few whacks at Kerouac as well.
But the best counsel came from the senior sage in attendance--who, in her ageless wisdom, solemnly addressed the assemblage after the lunch break and said, "Don't go back to the cafeteria...you can't even VOMIT that stuff up!"
As I left, I recalled Bukowski's advice to aspiring writers: Drink...f#ck...and smoke lots of cigarettes.
Wow...and he didn't even charge for that.