Digby Wolfe taught me a lesson the very first time I met him. I was taking a playwriting class each semester in UNM’s Theatre Department. Digby had just been hired to teach dramatic writing here. I asked him if he’d work with me one-on-one for a project I had agreed to tackle.

   “Sure, lad. What are you writing?” he said as he signed the necessary forms. I told him I was trying to write a piece for Mystery Cafe, but had never written a mystery before.

   “Isn’t every play a mystery?” he asked. He chuckled at my puzzled look and sent me on my way.

   As the semester progressed, I’d arrive at his office at our appointed hour and find him pecking away on his keyboard. I was gratified to see that he typed with fewer fingers than the four I used. “Terrence!” he’d sing out. (He always called me Terrence.) “Have a seat, lad.”

   When he finished his writing (“Is a writer ever finished?” he mused frequently) he’d turn and ask, “What have you got for me?” We’d talk about what I’d written and where I was stuck. He’d send me away with titles for books to read or movies to watch. Sometimes they were mysteries — he liked the Matthew Scudder detective stories by Lawrence Block, a connection, I suspect, to his own admitted alcoholism — or sometimes they were just movies he loved for their writing — Truly Madly Deeply was one of his first recommendations. (He especially loved the title.)

   What he was trying to show me through these examples is that you have to wade into the places you want to avoid at all costs. Matthew Scudder was a recovering alcoholic working as a private eye in New York's Hell’s Kitchen, so he ended up meeting people in a lot of bars where drinks tempted him sorely. Nina, the heroine in Truly Madly Deeply, keens for her deceased husband, a man she clings to even after his death, pitting her love for him against her will to live.

   But Digby, I'd argue, I’m writing a comedy. Going to wrenching, emotional places isn’t funny. “Sure it is, lad. We laugh about the same things that make us cry. We make jokes about death, don’t we?”

   Maybe not right now. Digby passed away last week. I took a lot of classes from him over the years and learned a lot from him. He encouraged me to just write. Don’t stop to edit. Don’t stop to correct. You never get to the deepest, darkest waters if you do. Not only should you lose sight of the shore, you must.

   When I sit down at the keyboard, I can still be a timid sailor (so far this sentence proves that) but, thanks to Digby, I know the world is not flat and I will not fall off the edge. The monsters I will surely find out there might scare me, but when I get up close and see their pimples, I can laugh at them, too.

   Thank you, Digby, for the great lessons in writing. And life.

Popejoy Hall

Views: 317

Comment by klutch on May 11, 2012 at 9:41am

Thanks Terry.

Comment by Carolyn Gonzales on May 11, 2012 at 10:06am

Well said.

Comment by Nnett on May 12, 2012 at 9:00am

Great piece Terry! Thanks!

Comment by dai wilde on May 16, 2012 at 12:39pm

david wildeDigby is and always will be the light of my light of my life... We should have a Digby Wolfe Festival, no? Thanks for the thought terry!


You need to be a member of Duke City Fix to add comments!

Join Duke City Fix

Connect with Us!

Community Forum

Bra Recycling 2 Replies

Started by Angel Wellness Boutique in Announcements. Last reply by Kitson Harvey 4 hours ago.

Protein Shake Shack? 3 Replies

Started by Kitson Harvey in Food & Drink. Last reply by Kitson Harvey 4 hours ago.

The best wings in town? 8 Replies

Started by Sophie in Food & Drink. Last reply by Kitson Harvey 4 hours ago.

My listing on google.com 1 Reply

Started by Gretchen Winchester in Announcements. Last reply by misterhinkydink Oct 5.

Mortgage Refinancing 6 Replies

Started by RebLem in General Discussion. Last reply by SLF Oct 2.

Latest Activity

Barelas Babe liked Johnny_Mango's blog post The Leaf Peepers
36 minutes ago
Duke City Fix liked Brian Fejer's blog post The Freedom Circus
52 minutes ago
Profile IconDuke City Fix via Facebook

Where in the world is Johnny Mango now? Read all about his journey to New Hampshire and the changing of the leaves!

The Leaf Peepers



See More
Facebook1 hour ago · Reply
Lady Day liked Johnny_Mango's blog post The Leaf Peepers
1 hour ago

Regular Features

Anyone can blog on the Duke City Fix, but here are the folks who blog most often:

© 2015   Created by Duke City Fix.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service