My first step in attempting to learn how to write a novel was to seek out a class. As an accountant, creative writing was not something I had a whole lot of experience with. I found a bewildering array of on-line writing classes. Since I had no familiarity with any of these, and an inherent distrust of online education, I opted for a classroom experience. Convenience and low cost led me to my local community college, Delaware County Community College.
I made my way to the fourth floor of the main classroom building and a tall gentlemen met me at the door and introduced himself as Bill Lyon, and said he would be the instructor for the class. I knew this name from somewhere, but I could not place it. There were about ten of us in the class, and we went around the table and introduced ourselves. Some of the class were retired, some were still working. They came from a variety of walks of life, and a number of them already knew each other from previous classes.
Then Bill Lyon introduced himself to the class. He said he was a retired sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then, it dawned on me. I grew up reading Bill Lyon on the sports pages. This guy was a true legend. He started the class by reading from one of his own works he called “Words.” No sports, just an inspiring, extremely well-written inspirational piece about the raw power of writing. Bill Lyon had this power. His words could have the class in tears in about five minutes. He could have them in hysterical laughter in the next five minutes. This man could write, sports or no sports. This was to be an interesting class. I’ll talk more about the class in the next blog entry, but I need to say something first about Bill Lyon, the instructor.
Several weeks after I finished the second class, (Yes, I repeated it, the experience was so valuable,) I was reading the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, and I saw an article written by none other than Bill Lyon. It seems that Bill had recently received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I am not sure of the exact timing of the diagnosis, but I believe it was before he taught the Creative Writing course I attended at Delaware County Community College. Needless to say, I had absolutely no idea he was experiencing this. Apparently Bill decided to write about it in a series of columns appearing from time to time in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “My Alzheimer’s Fight.” The first article of the series can be found at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20160605_My_Alzheimers_fight_Never_ever_quit.html. Trust me, the series is a good read. Having met this talented, humble, courageous man has been an honor. If I pick up a crumb of this man’s writing talent, the course has been worth it. If I learn nothing about writing, the inspiration and positive thinking will last a lifetime.
In the next blog entry, I’ll talk about the class. Please pardon a case of hero worship.