We_generousTwo years ago, I attended the North Carolina Writer’s Network annual conference. I was amazed to find hundreds of writers there, all talking about writing.

It had never occurred to me that so many people write or that, in fact, people actually study how to write. Go figure. Just think of all the time I’ve wasted, not in a writing group or studying with a teacher.

It was a real moment of clarity – I decided that it might be a good thing to take a writing class or twelve, to get work in front of others for their comment, to explore whether a writing teacher could see the architecture of the pieces that I couldn’t see, not yet.

At the last moment, and at the last session of that conference, I decided to attend a workshop on memoir. For some reason when I walked in, I felt that the teacher was someone who would be significant in my life–I didn’t know how, and I knew it didn’t really matter if we continued our connection past the end of the workshop, but for that moment, his influence would be significant. And it was. I’m still figuring out how. It doesn’t have to do with proximity, as so many things do.

His name was (and still is) Sebastian Matthews. A poet and memoirist, he teaches classes in which we read and listen to other writers, explore the structure of our pieces, and workshop the works of others in the course. I’ll begin my next class with him on February 14th.

It’s important to support writers, don’t you think? Sebastian has a new book of poetry out – a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, perhaps? You can find out about it here.

And guess who has written praise for Sebastian’s work? Yep. None other than my beautiful Billy: "Music and musicians run through most of these poems—Louis Armstrong to the Beach Boys and many in between—but Sebastian Matthews has his own poetic music, which is poised, tuneful and able to shift from major to minor so nice you hardly notice. We Generous is a terrific collection, an assembly of smart and evocative moments." —Billy Collins