It’s not very often that I can say I’ve met someone who has changed my life. But last summer, I met two of them.
After joining the staff of The Harbinger, I was given the opportunity to go to Dallas, Tex. for a writing workshop.Not wanting to stray too far from what I was comfortable with, I took the Specialized Writing class.
After a grueling nine-hour bus drive with 30 other journalism students, we arrived at the Dallas Marriott Hotel. After a brief meeting describing the objectives and schedule of the workshop, everyone went to their first class. Upon walking into the Specialized Writing room, I was bewildered.
Bouncing around the room were the two most eccentric and wonderful men I’ll ever meet: Scott Winter and David Knight. Scott and David are the two most brilliant foils to each other that literature could never create. They’re fire and ice. David is a cheery country-boy with a jack-o-lantern grin and Scott is a calm, coffee-shop-writer-type who knows how to rock a beret. I didn’t know it then, but these men would change my life.
It was Day 1 of Specialized Writing, or as David and Scott told us to call it, the Love Covenant.
“What happens in the Love Covenant stays in the Love Covenant,” they told us with a wink.
Every day when class started they would stroll in and shout, “Is this a class?” to which we’d reply, “No!”
“Is this a workshop?”
“What is it?”
The Love Cov was made up of about 40 students from several different states. To get to know our fellow writers, we were given a random partner. We would interview them about their “defining moment,” or a major moment or event that changed their life and they would reciprocate. Then we would each write a feature story about it.
Of course, abiding by the rules of the Love Cov, I can’t say what my partner told me. But it was heartbreaking. Only after talking with my friends who took the class did I realize how tough everyone had it. I’d never considered, growing up so privileged, the hardships other teenagers had to go through. It was eye-opening. And when I tried to brainstorm my defining moment, every idea I had was weak in comparison.
Other than our defining moment assignment, we were led through several other writing exercises. Each day we would write about small moments from our lives for five minutes (or as David and Scott called it, “observating”) and then share. We analyzed a series of articles about Sarah Clark, a girl from Kansas City who inspired us to find our own moments.
David and Scott’s eccentricities became routine. Every day we were greeted with a hearty, “Hey there, chicken liver!” upon entering class. If during our analyzing time somebody began to read ahead, David would strut over and sing a chorus of “cheater woman, che-cheater woman.” When talking about motifs David would grin and point to his partially toothless mouth, proclaiming, “I got motif than you!” while Scott would roll his eyes in response.
As the dreaded final day of the Love Cov loomed over us, we were given our final and most important assignment: to write a personal column.
The personal column was supposed to be written about anything. The writing process was arduous: we were writing an entire column in a matter of hours, getting enough people to edit it and then making sure we were (emotionally) prepared to read it in front of the Love Cov.
Our last day in Dallas, we all woke up an hour earlier than the class started and headed down to the conference room in our pajamas. We spent the first half hour or so of class doing our last observate, and summarizing the class in general. Then we all sat down and read our columns. And that day, my whole perspective changed. Everyone in that room had a story to tell. It could be heartbreaking, it could be hilarious.
But every person has a story. Just taking a look into these people’s lives, people I barely knew, was eye-opening. And it dawned on me that it wasn’t just the Love Cov; every person is complicated. Every person is important.
The five days I spent in Dallas changed me.
And yet, no matter how much I try to write about it, I will never do the Love Cov justice. Every moment I spent in that class was a magical, and every person was beautiful. I had more defining moments there than I’d ever had before. David Knight and Scott Winter have defined my life more in four days than people I’ve known for years. And for that I am truly grateful. Because of the Love Covenant and every wonderful experience I’ve had with them, I will always be proud to be a chicken liver.