tuesday night i went to a memorial service for my friend warren norwood.
a lot of people talked about what he meant to them, and how they met him. family and friends and co-workers told silly stories about his writing, his love for the mountain dulcimer, his wit, his bhuddism, and generally, his attitude.
i didn't share my story about him at the microphone. instead, here it is.
in the late 80's my step-mother went to a writing course at tarrant county called "writing fiction for fun and profit," and the companion course "advanced fiction writing." warren was the instructor. during the first class, students turned in their writing to warren, and he critiqued it. during the second class, other students critiqued your work.
warren called the second class "hack 'n slash."
after the classes ended, she joined a group of other writers in her class to continue the constructive criticism. she'd bring home her pile of other members' manuscripts each week, and i'd make copies of some of them and read and critique them as well, as the local "ghost hacker." but i didn't go to the meetings and i wasn't a member of the group.
in time i decided i wanted to join the group. joining the group wasn't easy: you were invited to attend and participate in a series of group meetings, and then you were asked to not attend one. at the one you didn't attend, the members discussed whether or not to admit you as a full member of the group. admitted by the other members of the group only by unanimous consent.
but there was another qualification: you had to survive "warren's course," and you can bet they asked warren whether or not they should admit you.
about the time i decided i wanted to join, that group started to fall apart. but viqui agreed to let me take warren's course, and off i went to be hacked and slashed.
four or five weeks into the class i skipped a week of writing. warren noticed, of course. but he didn't say anything about it.
he just looked at me with a look that said, "you can do better than that."
in time, with warren's help, the group reformed, and i was one of the new members. it became the first place where i felt like i was a part of the group, where i was a member of what was going on. it hadn't happened before, and it didn't happen again until i'd spent several years in aa.
one of those members has now moved to arizona, and another to mexico, and i haven't attended in almost a decade. but the rest of the group still meets every other tuesday night at a restaurant in arlington for food, socializiation, and hack 'n slash.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
thanks, warren, for making me realize that, yes, i can do better.