Bittersweet Chocolate


This is the second year that the Rough Writers and I have followed our tradition—that’s the one where I take everyone to Sonic at our last meeting of the school year and treat everyone to root beer floats. I say root beer, but we’ve never been a group for homogeneity, and so I suspect some will buy fries, some will get a banana split, and so on.

But the intention is still there. It’s been a good year and we are a closely knit group. We’ve shared two Poetry Slams, a Creative Writing contest, and myriad meetings where someone brings in a manuscript for evaluation, someone else jibes Sean about being Canadian, and someone else makes fun of Jane Austin, just to get a rise out of Chelsey.

I imagine I will be the traditionalist, being the only one to actually order a root beer float. It doesn’t matter.  We are nontraditionalists, and we revel not only in that identity, but the opportunity to find others of like-mindedness who enjoy being with us for an hour a week.

Root beer float night officially signals the end of Rough Writers for the school year, with promises to come back in the fall and oaths that next year will be an even better year than ever. There are T shirts to order, more manuscripts to write, and promises that yes, this year, we will all participate in National Novel Writing Month.

This year is slightly different for me. I look at Chelsey, Sean, Jazzmine, Edward, Scott and Sarah and I see not just students who I have helped learn a little more about writing and gain a new respect for the craft. I see friends who won’t be here in the fall. I am exceptionally proud of them, and wish them well, whether they go on into teaching, find their niche writing somewhere, or go on to graduate school. I especially wish Scott and Sarah well, as they exchange wedding vows and start a new life together. If ever two people were meant to be together, it is you two.

And I shouldn’t forget Tiffany. Two years ago I met a red-haired ball of fire who had one desire in life: to be a writer. As I have gotten to know you, I realize that you have exactly what is necessary to succeed in writing. I’m not talking about talent, mind you, even though you have that. From my experience, an ounce of drive is worth five pounds of talent, and you have that in abundance. It will be my honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with you next year as we rebuild Rough Writers.

One of the joys of being a professor is also one of the most profound bittersweet moments. That’s the day when he or she sees his students leave school to begin a life for themselves. In this, I wish all the Rough Writers—and their fellow graduates—God speed.

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