My First Interview
I was fifteen and had decided to take my first creative writing class. The class was aimed at adults, having been one of many classes (French Cooking, Ballet, Repair Your Own Car) offered in a booklet that arrived in the mail one day, and was held in a room adjoining several others above an Italian Restaurant. As is my wont, I arrived early to the first class. Another class (Discovering Calligraphy, I believe) was still in session where Creative Writing For Beginners was to be held. I took a seat in the small waiting area and found a magazine.
There was only one other person waiting there that evening. I remember nothing about her except that she was a woman about my mother’s age and that she was wearing a dress. I was dissatisfied with my magazine and drifted to her side of the room in search of another. Before I could make my selection, she asked me what class I was waiting to take. I told her creative writing. She asked me if it had been my idea to take this class. I told her it was. She asked me why I wanted to take creative writing. I said because I had always loved to write and that I wanted to be writer when I grew up.
And then she asked me what I liked best about writing. And after I answered that she asked me what sorts of books I read and were these the sorts of books I would like to write. She never ran out of questions. While I answered her questions, she sat perfectly still, listening to my every word.
After about the fourth or fifth question, I began to feel a little guilty. I wasn’t used to anyone taking such a complete and unselfish interest in me. But every time I would try to diminish myself, would try offer a polite out for this kind woman who was perhaps just passing the time by chatting with this talkative young man, she would ask me yet another question, just personal enough to be about me and no one else, and yet not so personal as to be intrusive.
Soon it was time for the class. She thanked me for sharing what I had. I hope I thanked her. I know I never found out what class she waiting for. Sometimes when I interview writers I remember that woman. I had done nothing at all to earn her attention, and yet she listened to me as if I were the most interesting person she had ever met. I am sure I was not. You cannot listen like that unless you are interested in everyone you meet.
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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com