Oct 3, 2022

As I mention earlier in Callie’s Ragbag, I was in my twenties when I wandered into a shop, searching for books for my classroom, and happened upon Where the Wild Things Are. When I got to the last line, it went right through me—whomp!—hit bedrock. I had to stand there awhile, fighting back tears, trying to compose myself. That was the moment, I’ve always known, that my wish to write children’s books took root. Some time later—weeks?…months?… I sat down with a pencil, munched on the end of it a while—but couldn’t come up with a single idea. “Eventually,” as I wrote in my long bio, “I concluded that I couldn’t write fiction and turned to journaling instead, imagining that maybe I could become a diarist like Anais Nin—though without a famous paramour like Henry Miller, I had my doubts that anyone would ever read my work.”

Now as I cast around in my mind for more ways to earn a living, I came up with the idea of teaching a mini-course I’d call “The Journal as Art.” As an experiment, I advertised it in the Bay Guardian as free 4-week course—and attracted a handful of students, only to find that it wasn’t a comfortable fit for me because I was too insecure about my own opinions to edit and critique other people’s work. But Vitalee, a newly arrived New Yorker—who’d just broken up with the boyfriend she’d traveled across the country with—became a new (and now old) friend and a month later, along with my roommate Susan, we were taking disco dancing lessons together.