I met the delightful Wilson on a dark and storm-swept night in the back of a library cafe. The chairs were scattered, ominous and empty, near the counter, while I waited at a tiny, risen table in the back. I took a look at my reflection: masked face, single coffee container in hand, rather frail… the inky black just outside the window deepened the shadows under my eyes. I found a lump rising in the back of my throat, which I tried to quell with scalding sips.
Wondering, constantly: Am I up for meeting a stranger, one of my peers who I may have seen in passing but have never spoken to? Am I capable of conducting a professional conversation?
Pale fluorescent lights hummed overhead, adding to the soft dissonance of my conscience.
Just as suddenly as the Cafe emptied, a figure approached. His footsteps were quiet, just as unsure as I felt.
“Hi! Wilson?” I said.
Taking the seat across from me, we formally introduced ourselves and shook hands. My nerves receded as the ocean does during a morning tide.
Although I was not able to capture everything verbatim, our conversation was incredibly pleasant and (as mentioned before), delightful! Here is both a transcript and a partial reconstruction:
- Amy: “First question… How long have you been writing? How did you get started?”
- Wilson: “I have been writing for nine years.”
He told me further that he hadn’t given the craft much thought until he decided to try it one day, and.. the rest is history!
- Amy: “What is your preferred style of writing? (Ex. Screenplays, etc). And why?”
- Wilson: “Oh, in terms of like.. Fiction or nonfiction? I definitely prefer fiction! I’ve been trying to do more nonfiction recently, but yeah, I generally stick to fiction.”
- Amy: “Understandable! What’s your favorite genre?”
- Wilson: “Ooh! That’s changed over the years, cause at first it was fantasy, but that was a lot of work…”
(I nodded in understanding. I’m sure many of us fantasy writers can relate!)
- Wilson (continued): “For worldbuilding and whatnot! And then I sort of moved on, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to write, like, a crime story!‘ And.. it was also fantasy…”
(We laughed. Old writer’s habits die hard!)
- Wilson (continued): “It also ended up being fantasy! So I’ve gradually been making my stories more and more fixed in reality, like from the more fantastical to the less fantastical, sort of like… a current one. A current one I’m working on is this mystery/horror, so it changes! Depending on what I’m feeling, what story ideas I have in my head. Like, ‘Oh! That’s what this genre’s going to be!‘”
- Amy: “That sounds really interesting, and I’ve got to say.. I’m intrigued by the crime fantasy!”
- Wilson: “It’s a fun one!”
- Amy: “I’d love to read your work sometime! If you’re okay with that.”
- Wilson: “Oh, for sure! I didn’t end up finishing it, I got like… almost halfway through what I’d planned before I stopped, because there were just too many plots and characters to keep track of. And I want to start with a clean slate and not have to maintain all these threads.”
- Amy: “Story of my life!”
(Both thought with vigor and spoken aloud!)
We spoke about how he managed to find time to write in between homework assignments and other responsibilities, although not enough to be able to continue his main storyline as of late.
- Amy: “That’s fair!”
- Wilson: “Just any story lying around.”
- Amy: “How many projects are you working on right now?”
- Wilson: “Currently on just one! But there’s a couple others that are barely started that I’m trying to get off the ground.”
- Amy: “Cool! When you start a story, what’s your normal writing process?”
- Wilson: “Normally, I start with a sort of ‘elevator pitch’, like: ‘Okay, okay! What’s the basic idea of this story?’ And then going to, like: ‘Who’s the main character? What’s their deal?’ And then, ‘Okay, how am I going to take this character… and make a plot that fulfills the concept that I have in my head?‘”
- Amy: “That’s really cool! When I start stories, it’s more of a… huge plot concept and then I have to narrow it down, and start cutting away everything…”
- Wilson: “Yeah!”
- Amy: “… and it’s just this…”
(Both wildly gesturing in the air with our hands.)
- Amy: “… Large.. Soup!”
(We shared a laugh.)
We also spoke about his positive experiences with other writers on campus and with the Creative Writing Department itself, until eventually (after the storm settled down outside), the topic turned to…
- Amy: “Who’s your favorite professor, so far?”
- Wilson: “Favorite professor.. That would have to be Professor Robinson! A great guy!”
- Amy: “That’s awesome! He’s actually my advisor..”
(A very overdue shoutout to Lewis Robinson! He’s a great professor in his Stephen King and Fiction classes, and an all-around great person!)
I found that despite my nerves, people can learn a lot from complete strangers, and I believe that is a part of writing! Thank you, Wilson!