Sara Fall Williams

Office #2608

Though I’m often shy about my own writing, I’m hardly ever shy about anyone else’s. As a writing teacher, I strive to help people write their way through challenges and into new experiences and new insights about their own capabilities, to use writing to help them cross the bridge into the next thing.

I have a story about just such an experience that happened to me:

My bike was stolen some years ago.  It was a beautiful bike, no question, but not a valuable bike.  It was just a loved bike, meticulously cared for, black and smooth and comfortable under my awkward body.

I always name my bikes. I’ve ridden the Admiral, Goldie-turned-Sheila, the Cherry Bomb, and Romy.  But that bike, it already had a name that fixed on my tongue like a half-sucked chocolate kiss.  Fuji del Rey: Lovely as a wish. That bike was going places.

If you’ve ever had something stolen from you, you know that it’s never really gone.  It becomes a bike-shaped (or whatever-shaped) empty space.  That ghost-bike followed me around for days, and still I see it sometimes and scowl a bit.  But back then the sense of that absence pierced me acutely.  It seemed like I would never get over that bike.

What I did was plead with the universe, with the thief, cry out to all those other lost souls and lost bikes.  I made fliers and I stapled them in harsh cathartic smacks to telephone poles, message boards, walls around the neighborhood.  And this is what I wrote, apart from its description: “MY BIKE WAS STOLEN—if you took it, return it. That bike is my freedom.  Please.  My heart is broken.”  Then there was some contact info.

That was it.  A simple sign, a simple statement—but it changed so much for me.  For one thing, it was the first piece of writing I’d ever done that had people talking.  Since the bike was taken from the same neighborhood where I worked, I heard many people talking about my bike and the signs I made.  Sometimes people knew or would ask who I was and they would express their condolences and tell their own lost bike stories. I was struck by their kindness and generosity. I loved peoples’ stories, most of all, loved making those brief connections. All because my bike was taken, I made some signs, said the truth about what I feel.

The fact is, I’ve had to unlearn a lot of junk about writing: I thought writing was supposed to be important, grand, tortured, correct, appropriate, smart.  And it can be, of course, but that’s not the ‘point’ of writing I don’t think.  The point is to say what you have to say, let people read it, let them tell you their own stories—make connections, communicate.  That’s writing.  I wanted to be a part of that.

So I finished my Master’s in English at CU Boulder and began working with writers at the CU Graduate Writing Support program. A few years later I started working here at Red Rocks as an adjunct instructor, and I was hired as a fulltime faculty member in January, 2017. I might still miss that bike, but I’m glad I grabbed the chance to talk to writers every day.