First rule of write club: Do not write about write club.

Second rule of write club: DO NOT write about write club.

Third: If you put your pen or pencil down you are done.

Fourth: One reading at a time.

Fifth: Only write one thing at a time.

Six: No illustrations, no diagrams, no annotations.

Seven: You write as long as you need to.

Eight: If this is your first night you have to write.

The intense man at the front of the classroom finishes writing the rules on the board and proceeds to glower at us. He's not an imposing figure, medium height, thin build, glasses and graying hair. But his eyes have a fierceness that says he'll tear any of us a new one. This is someone who's read hundreds of classics and graded tens of thousands of freshman papers. The height of literary genius and depths of stupidity and sloth have passed before his eyes. I wasn't prepared for this. I thought this was going to be some sort of poetry slam or something.

"Hey aren't those the rules to-"

"Palahniuk stole them. We don't talk about him or his work here."

"Who the hell is Palahniuk?"

"Oh God, you're as bad as my 10:30 class."

Our instructor begins adding more rules to the board. My palms are sweating, hands shaking. I can't write under pressure. What if he wants us to trade papers. I look down at my notes. I can barely read my own writing.

9: Do not talk or write about Chuck Palahniuk or his work.

I feel dizzy, nauseous, this is just like public speaking 101 except none of the folks here are young or attractive. That should make it better but it somehow makes it worse. I feel their eyes on me. Judging me.

10: Avoid displays of profound ignorance whenever possible.

The instructor is in an argument with one of the students or writers or whatever we are. None of them are watching the door. I get up quietly and begin moving toward the exit. I'm almost there when a voice stops me.

"Where are you going?"

I turn around. A few of the students have turned to watch me leave. Quick, brain, come up with a response. I leap at the door and turn the handle (in that order) resulting in a loud thunk that has every eye in the room on me for the one second that it takes to push through the doorway. Brain you receive an F for this assignment.

This whole incident is made all the more awkward by my returning to collect my backpack and car keys forty five minutes later.


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