Boy, I sure underestimated the caliber of writer I addressed at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Senior Center at St. Peter’s Church this afternoon (what a mouthful – I hope there’s an abbreviated name for this place.) First of all, they weren’t in their 80s, but more like mid to late 70s – a diverse group of literate people who were more than willing to read aloud what they had written. Even Vinny, my mother’s memory enhancement instructor was a student in this class; turns out he’s a passionate writer too. Although Bob Kerrigan, the charming instructor, introduced me right away and was anxious for me to speak, he gave each of his students the courtesy of allowing them to read their pieces, the longest lasting about seven minutes, the shortest, an Ogden Nash quippish poem, a mere several seconds. Six out of nine students read. (Three were unprepared- OMG- a deja-vu from my own teaching days.) Bob made it a point to show me that he carries his “bible,” Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style to class each week. You never know when you may have to look up a tidbit of English usage. I don’t fault him; in fact, I fully understand. I usually had a collection of grammar and usage references at my fingertips when I taught English.
This is what I had posted on my author’s page of Facebook last evening: Trying to decide which excerpts from the book to read to an audience of senior citizens (most in their 80s) at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Senior Center tomorrow. I’ve been invited by the creative writing teacher at the center to make a presentation. I’m trying to choose a funny excerpt with “clean” language. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of using “The Bard Off-Broadway” on p. 162, and parts of two “Student’s I Can’t Erase.” Hope the audience doesn’t fall asleep.
Now I was up. I received a nice reception, though not as warm as I am used to – at first. I had to prove myself and by the end of the 40 minutes, the audience was applauding, laughing and eager to ask some questions. Unfortunately we were forced to pack up and vacate the room at 2 p.m. sharp since they were using the room to screen a 1939 film starring Myrna Loy and Tyrone Power. Nineteen thirty-nine: what a year for films, as Bob, a film buff, rattled off “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “How Green Was My Valley” and “Stagecoach” – classics all. However, we did not stick around for “The Rains Came.”
As we were leaving, two thoughtful questions were posed: Do you have a promoter? and Is it worth it to self-publish? Answers: “Yes, you’re looking at her,” and “Yes.”