Wandering across the campus I am transported 18 years to the past, memories of long wool coats, sauntering to class, full of questions and a hunger to learn. Today, getting our FREE coffee (thank you Squire) I bring my briefcase and the fear that I do not belong. Most of the students are half my age, but I have found a few veterans to align with in my pursuit of publications, teaching credentials, and of course, fame and fortune.

The week will be a long one. Very little sleep. Staring at the concrete walls, lying in the strange bed, the heater clicking on, the blinds rattling, footsteps above me. In the distance, is that a moan? Pain or pleasure? Good Lord. What have I done.

I will be enlightened by guest speakers, writers I did not know.

A poet, with a long list of awards. Words like Guggenheim flitter about the art gallery. MacArthur grants. I am impressed and then she reads, explaining the history of her work and I am moved. Linda Bierds.

Scott Russell Sanders. An essayist. That doesn’t convey much. Sounds dry. But he is anything but. Filled with emotion and history his work fills the room. Again, am impressed.

The fiction writer turned creative non-fiction. Whirlwind is all you need to know. Heather Sellers. Tall, striking, full of energy and stories that make me laugh out loud.

Beyond that, each day, the applied practical methods and tactics, inspirations and sources, to us in class, so that we might glean something from their life lessons.

It continues but for now, their voices are what I hear.


Arrived, made it here in one piece. The ride down was rather introspective, but unfortunately I have had no internet since getting here. My laptop power cable died. Nice. So no time to expound on the prison cell dorm room, the moist air of the brick and mortar campus, or the small group of writers and characters from all walks of life.

More to come.

CC#3 – After the Fire

Colored Chalk Fallible

Colored Chalk "Fallible"

Designed and edited by Caleb J. Ross, with work by Nik Korpon, Michael A. Kechula, Anthony David, Chris Deal, Charles King, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Joel Shoemaker, Sean P. Ferguson, Mark Grover and Keith Haworth.

So it begins

A hug and kiss to the wife and kids, loaded up, gas, car washed and a fresh supply of crack in a cup, Starbuck Venti Mocha, and I am wanderlust.

Not bad. 178 miles from Mundelein to Champaign. Baymont hotel? Eh. Ok. But nice free wifi, so I can’t complain too much.

Lots of thoughts ran through my head as I cruised down here. Memories of college at the nearby Bradley University flash before my eyes, fast cuts of frat parties at DU and chasing girls. I pass fields of grass and wheat and corn. Or whatever it is they grow here. The road ahead darkens and I’m reminded of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” and as always I wonder what life is like in these small towns. Been there. You’re terminal, or you want out. Fast.

Listening to the Sherman Alexie tale “The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian” as I cruise a straight line south. Very funny. Supposed to read it for classes. Behind. Between the magazine I’m editing at Colored Chalk, my job and family, and other writing commitments, I’m not done with the reading. Stupid book from Amazon didn’t get here in time, so I’m screwed on that one. Out of print. And the Poe? Ugh. Unreadable. Gonna surf for the cliffnotes, or wikinotes, and pray that is enough.

Well, short stories to read, the best of 2008. Awesome collection. If you don’t read this series, do it. Keeps you in touch as a writer with what is happening in the world of short stories, and pubs, and has been pretty good so far. TC Boyle, AM Homes, and others make this a good read.

Look forward to meeting my prof and mentor. I hear good things about the lady Pruitt, so I’m optimistic.

USC vs Penn on tv. I mean, my books to read. And I see a Taco Bell out the window. It is calling me. I am rather immune.