I didn’t start with the intention of changing people’s lives through writing workshops. I didn’t even know about small in-house workshops where confidentiality is a vow all who attend must take.
As I frequently told my daughters, your life can change with one phone call. Exhibit A: Me and Writing Workshops. The call came from Canada, generated by one of my boarding academy girlfriends.
“Dale,” Aprille said, “I’m going to be in Massachusetts on November 11, and I didn’t know if we could arrange for a dinner.”
I immediately agreed, and on November 11, 2004, David and I set out. A two-hour drive seemed like around the block when she was coming from a different country. At dinner, she told me that she was in Amherst working on a certification program with Amherst Writers and Artists to present writing workshops.
“You’d love it!” she said. “The leader gives writing prompts and we write on the spot. We call it ‘newborn’ writing and we don’t critique.”
As the evening wore on, I made a choice to accept the penance I knew was coming. I’d have to be the driver for the return trip if we stayed much longer. David has a hard time with night driving. I prodded Aprille with details about the program until the restaurant closed at 9:00 p.m.
On the two-hour drive, I was totally alert as David snoozed beside me. I had lots to think about. Two weeks before I had unexpectedly been laid off after praying for six months that God would show me with certainty what I should do about my employment. I loved the job, but the likelihood of the company continuing to operate as it had been was slim. Should I wait until it dissolved or was sold or should I jump ship ahead of the imminent crash?
I had never been laid off before, so I didn’t understand unemployment and severance. Would I receive a lump sum severance or would it be paid out weekly? Would I get it before unemployment or simultaneously? As my high beams sliced a path into the night, I decided that if my severance overlapped my unemployment, I would take the training course. As it turned out, that is what happened; not only that, the severance was the exact tuition for the course.
I have often said that the process of writing and the process of living are identical. So it was in 2004. One chapter of my life ended, and I turned the page on a blank sheet to be determined as the years unfolded.
Thank you, Aprille Janes, for opening a door for me with one phone call.