Have I Made It?

I remember the first time I attended the Willamette Writers Conference, the blend of idolatry and loathing I felt for the other aspirants. I couldn’t talk to anyone. What if these people were better than me? What if they made it and I failed? The second time I went, I was more ambitious. I reserved […]

Read more "Have I Made It?"

Maximum Capacity for the Writer

As I prepare to teach my first, full-length college-level fiction writing class, I think back on the writing advice that resonated with me over the years. I remember Mary Oliver’s advice: “Writing is like a date. Nothing happens if you don’t show up.” I remember the Willamette Writers Conference session where I grasped the subtleties […]

Read more "Maximum Capacity for the Writer"

How to Fall in Love in Six Songs

You begin with something innocuous.  Any boy band will do. The message is simple: you are pretty, and I love you. These songs draw the ire of my father, a physicist and classical musician. “Baby, baby, do ya wanna wanna,” he mimics in a nasal twang. “Is that all they’re saying?” “Yes, Dad.” I sigh. […]

Read more "How to Fall in Love in Six Songs"

Winter Term

Winter Term Men reach a certain age and rest: forty-five for a decade, seventy-two until death. Only in academia does this happen to women as well. Something about the books, and all that youth to push against. We reach a tousled middle-agedness early, and then grow slowly into ourselves until, at sixty, we are gorgeous, our […]

Read more "Winter Term"