How could one small, shy man touch us all so deeply

Posted: September 24, 2013 by AStrauss in pleskoisms
How could one small, shy man touch us all so deeply? That we stay awake in the night afraid, wondering how to get along, go on without him. The true sign of a great, no a gifted teacher, a sage, if you will, is the ability to speak just to you. You’re mine we all thought, my mentor, my friend, you understand me, what I hope and want and dream. Make me better, make me see. That’s all we wanted. Everything. And, remarkably, it’s what we got.

I happened into his class because UCLA suggested Les Plesko, novel IV. Pure luck. I came in with a finished (ha, don’t we all know that ha), first draft of a first novel in hand. Younger, of course, but older, too, I was skeptical, impatient, jet-lagged, how could this guy teach twelve people, each with his own poor sad story, to write? Show me. And then he did. I fell in love. With his brilliant technique seemingly pulled from the pocket of his jeans, his simple words of advice, “what if….” and he would present a new way of looking at something you never could have imagined. He’d really thought about your work, about your characters, he knew them. Mine, yours, he held hundreds of stories in his head. He could read one page from years ago and recall an entire book.

I was in touch with him on Sunday, September 15, the day before. How could that be? Impossible. It was an especially warm, now poignant correspondence. What now? What now? Sometimes, when we hadn’t seen each other in a while, I’d send him a note, just checking in, that all was well. Be there. Please. I still need you.
Janet Clare


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