My So-Called Literary Life

I miss having students. For a long time I ran a read and critique group called The First Hundred pages. We met on Thursdays and reading submissions took me most of Wednesday. Some students started raw and got well cooked. A couple went on to be selling authors. One doesn’t sell much but she wins prizes all the time.

For a little while I had a student who wrote beautifully and was so handsome that he upset the balance of the class. Several writers had a hard time concentrating when he was in the room. His problem was, he couldn’t revise and wouldn’t let anyone help him learn. His book was over a thousand pages long when we met. Some writers waded into the group and stayed for years but lots just dipped their toes in and moved on.

I miss seeing these funny, interesting, talented men and women. I don’t remember their names for the most part but I can still tell you the plots of their novels. Writing novels is a solitary art which has become more isolating thanks to technology.

I used to go out and talk to people as part of my research but now I use my computer. I subscribe to a service that will tell me anything I want to know about anything and I don’t have to step out of my office. If it were not for the women I see at the pilates studio in the neighborhood, I would go for days talking to my husband and dogs and myself. Yes, I do talk to my self. I maunder on about whatever plot I’m hatching, I interview my characters, I pretend I’m Terry Gross and ask a lot of perceptive questions. But I miss having students.

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