English: A photo of American actor John Cusack.

English: A photo of American actor John Cusack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Serendipity, according to Wikipedia, means a “happy accident” or a “pleasant surprise,” specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. Serendipity is also the name of a 2001 romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsdale, which included a scene at the restaurant in Manhattan called Serendipity. The movie reference is not an integral part of this post, it’s just a gratuitous reason to insert a pic of John Cusack. He’s from Chicago. He’s cool. I digress.

In 2010, I registered for a continuing ed class called Autobiography, Memoir, or Fiction. The class was cancelled the next day due to low enrollment, so I opted non-serendipitously, I thought, for a nonfiction class in Freelance Writing. After waiting over two decades to hone my skills, writing in any genre would be better than not writing at all. During this session, I met three other women who wanted to start a writer’s group after the class ended, a group which one woman’s spouse later christened as “The Literati.”

We meet monthly now, as writers and close friends, to critique each other’s newspaper stories, magazine articles, book chapters and poems, and to share hopes and dreams. One of our members also secured a charming, competent moderator for us. Our moderator, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing, remains engaging, insightful and supportive, even when the critique segues through the ongoing melodrama of our personal lives. Finding her, post-class, proved another pleasant surprise.

This week I’ve fretted about not getting into another course. Short-fiction writing at a community college. It’s not that I didn’t try to register early; I just forgot my online password. A password that could be prompted by correctly answering the secret question: “What is your favorite color?”

An easy question, right? Except that instead of choosing a simple color, such as blue, I got all artist-writery-creative and picked “cerulean” or “halcyon” or . . .I never did quite remember. The instructor graciously invited me and the other five petitioners who want “in” to return again next week with our homework assignment–in the event that someone who’s registered decides to drop.

Of course, I could just READ my copy of “Object Lessons” the Paris Review presents The Art of the Short Story, purchased  at Barnes as part of my resolution to write well–and try to teach myself short fiction. I could take an online fiction class, but I don’t resonate as well to electronic feedback. I crave the direct-eye contact, read-the-body-language, hear-the-vocal-inflection response to my stories, as found only in the immediate viscerality of a live classroom.

“What is the point of this post,” you might ask, “besides whining?” It’s that I’m illogically disappointed that serendipity does not seem at play this year. Of course, actively seeking a happy accident is antithetical to the entire premise of serendipity. So I’m going to stop now and enjoy seeing John Cusack in my blog.


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