How I Lost My Library Privileges (Damhnait Monaghan & Ellen Goldstein)

Dear “Writer”,

When I left the library on Friday afternoon, my inbox was clear. This morning, I returned to find fourteen emails from you describing craft workshops you’d like to present for our Friday morning Beginning Writers series.

For the sake of brevity and clarity (concepts with which I fear you are unfamiliar) I will reply to all of your suggested workshops in one message. We very much appreciate your interest in the Middle Hampshire Regional Library.

1. Writing Lessons from Freddy Krueger and Other Fictional Mass Murderers

While this does sound interesting, unfortunately the Board would object.

2. The Life-Changing Magic of the Semi Colon

We are ourselves fans of the semi-colon (when used correctly—perhaps consult Chicago Manual of Style sections 6.56–5.50 for a refresher?), but do not feel that this topic is broad enough for a workshop.

3. Write Like a Mouse: A Guide for Canadians and Other People Embarrassed to Say “Motherfucker” Out Loud 

Several of our library staff are Canadian, and they are very sorry they are unable to support this workshop. 

4.The Hero’s Journey: A Pub Crawl

Unfortunately, the Board would not approve, nor would the organizers of the AA support group, which meets here at the library on Monday evenings.

5. Save the Dog: Cats Neither Want nor Need Your Help 

I’m afraid we must pass on this workshop for multiple reasons. Some of our patrons are allergic to dogs. In addition, your reliance on outdated cat stereotypes is, quite frankly, offensive.

6. Attaching Documents the First Time: Best Practice for Writing Professionals

While this has some potential, we wonder if you are the appropriate person to teach this workshop, as you sent us three emails before you managed to, in fact, attach the document.

7. How to Lose Friends andFamily: Memoir for Dummies

Thank you for suggesting this workshop as part of our popular seniors and their caregivers outreach program. However, this workshop is not a good fit at the present time. Best of luck proposing it elsewhere. 

8. Bird vs. Bird: Some Instructions on Trashing Lit Mags that Reject You, Mean-Spirited Reviews, and Acquiring Nemeses

We wonder if you might benefit from some self-reflection as to the source of your grievances. We can recommend our Mindful Journaling workshop which meets every other Wednesday at 3 p.m.

9. Just Throw It Down the Stairs Already: How to Organize your Poetry Manuscript

Unfortunately, throwing paper or other printed materials down the stairs, or anywhere else on the library premises, violates OSHA Standard 1910.37(a)(1).

10. Tell, Don’t Show: It’s a Novel, not a Fucking Instagram Story

May we recommend our Anger Management Support Group which meets on Tuesday afternoons at 4? 

11. Off Writing: Giving Up with Aplomb 

The goal of our Beginning Writers group is to encourage people to express themselves through writing, and this proposed workshop may run counter to those efforts. We would like to ask, however, if you are aware of the expression, “Physician, heal thyself.” It seems to us that you might be better off giving up (with or without aplomb.) May we suggest business school? And perhaps therapy?

Yours etc,

Ethel K, Harrison, MLS

Director of Library Services


Damhnait Monaghan writes short and long fiction. She is the author of the award-winning novella in flash The Neverlands and the novel New Girl in Little Cove. Ellen Goldstein is a poet and author of Stuff Every Beer Snob Should Know. She is working on a book about stargazing. Damhnait and Ellen met online ten years ago. They spend most days WhatApping each other about writing and other forms of despair. This piece began as a series of WhatsApp messages. 


image: MM Kaufman