Because it was nearing the start time of 9 AM, I walked quickly to the screen right near the entrance. “Excuse me,” I said to a nearby bellhop. “Where is the Stanford room?”
“It’s one floor up,” he answered.
I scanned the lobby confused, searching for the way up.
“The stairs to your left,” he added.
I bounded up the stairs and found the room. As I was about to enter, a volunteer jumped in front of me and sent me downstairs again to register. I returned and found a single seat. In the back, squeezed between two people. As I stepped in, people sat in rows. Almost all women and about two men. Mostly white. My parents’ age. I wondered what their topics were like. The struggle of parenthood? The divorcees? Cancer? Maybe I did stereotype them quickly.
To my surprise, stories of living with cult bounded out. A story of living on the same street as the Beatles slipped out from an Liverpool woman. Then there was the father who was telling a touching (but stereotypical) story of his daughter who was misdiagnosed with a debilitating disease and now studies at Stanford.
I was impressed. Although like my own stories, everyone’s story started faltering into “woe is me, because I am victim.” And that’s exactly what the instructor focused on—to tear away from the desire to whine, to complain, but to present a story that is compelling and engaging to the reader.
To begin, let’s say this: “My dad always served ice cream after dinner.”