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  • Literature
    202-885-2971
    Fax: 202-885-2938
    lit@american.edu
    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
    Sr. Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

Anthony Wilson, Writing Sample

In Capital Letters (ICL): What do you want remember about the program in 10 years? 

That it was the nexus of my successful writing career.

ICL: From being part of the program and participating in workshops and the Visiting Writers series, what do you think are the most important things you have learned about your own writing?  How has your writing changed?  

I've learned that looking inside myself isn't enough. The details of the room are just as important as the emotions inside my characters.

ICL: What is your favorite quote or line from a book?  

"I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted." from "Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac 

ICL: What have you read most recently that inspired you?  

Specifically, an article titled, "A Day's Sail" by Sergio De La Pava, in which he miraculously weaves together a narrative incorporating Virginia Woolf, a Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti boxing match, and the experiences of childhood cancer patients. It was mesmerizing. In general, though, everything I read inspires me.

ICL: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.  

I tried out for the Atlanta Braves when I was a senior in college. I didn't make it.

ICL: If your life had a theme song right now, what would it be? 

"Expo '86" by Death Cab for Cutie:

"Sometimes it seems that I don't have the skills to recollect
The twists and turns of plots that turned us from lovers to friends
I'm thinking I should take that volume back up off the shelf
And crack its weary spine and read to help remind myself"

 

Writing Sample

I stood alone outside the circle, motionless.  I could smell the combination of cold air, burned leaves and cigarette smoke.  I took a step forward to the circle, but was shoved aside by an older boy straining his neck to see over the pack.  At my level, I could see over most of the other kids. I could step in and do … something.  Anything.  But I was still frozen, knowing that stepping in would mean my own beating, would mean being lumped in with Charlie and suffering the same fate, day after day.  I knew I could put my reputation on the line, hoping that the boys who liked me would help me out, but that was risky. Even if I was bigger than most of the other boys in my class, I couldn’t withstand a group assault. I knew I wanted to do something, but I also felt the weight of consequence, which I thought then would last a lifetime.

Charlie suffered that night. He went home with a bloody nose, a fat lip and a host of other bruises, but the worst injury was to his ego. He finally stood up for himself, and it didn’t matter. He got beaten down anyway.

Charlie transferred schools soon afterward, and I didn’t see him again until at least 15 years later. I was visiting my parents for Christmas, and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for Mom. A stooped man ahead of me was holding up the line, taking his time scribbling out a check. When he looked up, I saw that it was Charlie. He looked older than his 30-some years. He was balding, and his face was pock-marked. He looked tired, like he had been carrying a very heavy stone for a long, long time. I started to say hello, but I stopped myself. I thought that he might not want to be reminded of his past.

I often think about that night when I’m driving in my car, alone.  I think about it when I see high school football scores in the paper.  I think about it whenever the first frost hits, when I step outside before I realize the temperature and the cold hits me in the face.  Sometimes I turn the air conditioning on while I’m driving in my car, just to capture a hint of the chill I’d feel standing beneath the bleachers. It's the weight of that night with Charlie, and the weight of all my other missed opportunities, that holds me down, pins me to the wall in a time of action, sinks inside me in the form of nausea. If only I could have been more courageous. I deserve the cold chill, and I give it to myself.


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Anthony Wilson