Last month Michael Khandelwal sat down with me at The Muse Writers Center in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia for a chat about the center’s new digs. It was an interesting conversation. With a desire to teach poetry and a couple of flyers he set out to to build what has evolved to become The Muse Writing Center.
It was a very interesting hour we spent at the center talking about those first few days, years, and writing in general. I walked away with a couple of comments Michael had that will stick with me for a long time. The first was that while fourteen years ago he had a dream of what we were now sitting in, the path wasn’t always clear cut how to get from its meager beginnings to there. My takeaway is that you don’t have to have a solid plan to make things work out.
Second, don’t let mistakes stop you. As Khandelwal told me of a few missteps that were bumps in the road, he reminded me that nothing is perfect. We are human and things go wrong, that is a given. Errors aren’t what stop us from progress. They can be learning moments, and they can also make us check our conviction on what we are doing. Don’t sweat them.
Third, and most important, is an echo of one of my recent college professor’s comments– you don’t need permission to write. What you do with your words and where you take it is a right that we all have. If you aren’t quite sure about either of those, there is a wealth of ways to figure that out – writing centers like The Muse, writing conferences, groups, college courses and programs, as well as the internet. Bottom-lining it – it is up to you, no one else.
Keep writing. Thanks Mr. Khandelwal for the time, advice, and the center.