Tonight I go to a writers’ workshop. A free event offered by one of the writing schools here in the city. A taste test you might call it- about developing characters.

Held in a 5 floor bookstore I need to coach myself to the event room. ‘No Nina. Just go to the workshop’. Very dangerous territory for a financially conscious intern.

When I find I am 10 minutes early I go in search of a makeshift diary. New York life is getting a little chaotic trying to juggle all the A4 printed flyers I find on line to support my interests and the little scraps of paper with suggestions from hallway conversations.  I buy a bright orange ruled paper notebook made from recycled rubber- partly because it looks fun, and partly for the green value. It’s blank rather than dated so I can create my life planner however I wish.

Our workshop leader is the head of the school. He lets us know right away they we will be writing tonight, not listening. I am both excited and intimidated. I can feel the stomach churn in anticipation.

Reflecting on my life over the last 12 months I am overwhelmed by the possibilities confronting me. I resist the temptation to base a character on my mother- both the most complex and simplest character in my life. I resist writing about anyone I know well. Too awkward I decide.

We write and share, write and share. I don’t share. Usually at these things I am one of the first to speak- mostly because nobody else wants to. I always feel a social obligation to get the ball rolling. Maybe it’s the trainer in me. Or an eldest child thing. Or simply a desire to have things work.

But this is New York. Everybody wants their time in the spotlight. No problems with volunteers here.

The workshop is a small microcosm of the book world. I listen attentively to April interrupting a couple’s private moment, to Dimitri lost in his world of dungeons and dragons, and Jose running and hiding from an unknown attacker. We also watch as two participants re-enact a scene from body heat. Not sure how that adds to our learning, but it sure is entertaining. And makes me think I should probably see Body Heat. Kathleen Turner talked about it at her public lecture the other week.

I come home feeling a little inspired. But also wondering how I reconcile my desire to soak up as much NYC as possible- and to lock myself away to write. If I can sort that one out, I’ll be a very happy woman.

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