Writing & Writers

Set & Setting


I used to think if i could realize I’d die
Then I would be a lot nicer
Used to believe in a lot more
Now I just see straight ahead

That’s not to say I don’t have good times
But as for my days
I spend them waiting

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone or something were watching me from above. It seems, when my esteem as a writer is evaporating, a symbol of some sort stumbles back into my life. That symbol just happens to go by the name of The Frank Man.

I met Frank back in 2005 at the University of Texas, Pan American. We both attended the Creative Writing Institute that summer – he as a grad student studying poetry, while I studied short fiction. He noted my fondness for Hawaiian shirts. A few years later, before graduation, I re-encountered him as I left the COAS building, heading for the SBS. He stopped me, noted that he remembered me  – not because of my shirt, but because of my penchant for including profanity in my works.

Yesterday marked my third encounter with Frank. After finishing the first half of my job at the stadium, I walked into the administration office to grab a drink of water. I downed my first cup when he walked through the doors and finished a second cup before I asked if I could help him. He recognized my face, he said. But couldn’t place me. I asked for his name – he did look familiar, but a man like Frank – up until now, I’ve failed to mention he is African-American in all sense of the term – isn’t hard to overlook, our black community in the valley is slim.

“I’m the one with the Hawaiian shirts and the profanity,” I replied. He laughed, remembering hints of me. We reacquainted ourselves, caught up in our writings and plans. I told him my plans of returning to school to get my MFA, while he seeks a publisher. I mentioned to him that we’re in a digital age, hard copy publishing is on crutches. Digital is where to look toward and sites like Amazon and Smashwords are likely to aid him into the world of self-publishing, as his fear is someone running off with his works.

Dreams and death, I’ve learned, fill Franks life. The former healing the latter. Frank doesn’t let it get him down. He can laugh at situation most of us would cower in the shadows with. Be it his faith in God, but the man has something I favor – hope. Not many of us have it. Some of us have given up on it. And while, I may or may not enter an MFA program this fall, at least I know what my reasoning for doing so is. And it took a man like Frank to remind me.

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