I went over to campus today. Without thinking I parked in the same place and took the same walk across the bridge to the Humanities Department. I’ve been here a million times but it has been almost a year since I came back. How it can feel so familiar and yet so distant like a land I once visited is a new feeling for me. School seems like this weird trip I took. I hardly remember parts of it and yet the whole process took me nearly seven years. If I took one thing from school it would be a collection of things my friend and mentor Ron Carlson told me over the course of my senior year as I had the immense pleasure of studying, writing, and listening with him. He has this way of phrasing his advice that makes you feel like it should be written on your bedroom wall or inscribed into your tombstone. So I head back to campus for my annual visit with him since graduation two years ago. This is where we devise plans and amend mistakes and generally plan the next year of my life. I was happy to hear that in his opinion that I am doing well. That as long as I am writing I am doing well. Good God.
So this is what he told me:
Don’t be cute.
Keep your writer separate from yourself, she is sad and vulnerable and deserves to be protected.
All of the good things happen in the dark.
Follow the genius.
Do not write what everyone else is writing. Write what you think about.
Do not be cute.
If you are writing there is no hurry.
Back to writing.