Continuing our series on The Center’s volunteers, we meet the Creative Writing instructor, David Wallace: Creative Writing Class Sept 9th Sign Up Now
As my fourth season mentoring the Creative Writing class begins Saturday, I’m suddenly in the embarrassing position of writing my own story. But, as that’s also what I’m presently doing as a memoir on deadline, I’ll tell you why publishers were interested.
I think it’s because A Kid From Missouri has less to do with anything I’ve accomplished than being a vivid demonstration of what unintended consequences can do to mold a life. It’s the story of an ordinary, shy kid who was given amazing opportunities and experiences simply because of a unique chain of events… among them chatting with Pope Pius XII about my sexuality; hanging with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; hobnobbing with heroes (among them the Eisenhowers - mom was in Mamie’s Canasta club), and idols like Maria Callas (I’m the ultimate opera queen).
It all started with a long ago scandal causing my family to withdraw into itself for 50 years, socializing, celebrating, mourning, and, for some (including me), actually living together in my grandmother’s house in Independence, Missouri. My mom, dad (her son), and I occupied two upstairs bedrooms, and, across the hall, her daughter’s family had their bedrooms. And her husband – my uncle - was a U.S. Senate rookie named Harry S Truman. Take it from there… from my earliest days, I’ve lived in a pretty high profile environment, but when FDR died and my uncle became president, everything went into overdrive... White House vacations, Secret Service everywhere, the Independence (the presidential plane) and the Williamsburg (the yacht, among whose military staff was my galley-raider buddy Cpl. Steve McQueen),, assassination attempts, fawning sycophants, etc… the whole magillah.
Turns out that eventually I discovered I could write. Gossip queen Liz Smith (who dubbed me “the maestro of entertainment history”), People (I became its National Correspondent), and The New York Times (which called my work “inspired”), were among those who also noticed. Which led to my developing my own celebrity-filled phonebook, publishing nine books, and, eventually, also led to teaching the Creative Writing workshop at The Center where, gratifyingly, I have been able to assist many in putting words to their own life stories, dreams, and fantasies.