Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It takes a village to make a writer

My writing life divides neatly into Before and After Clarion. Before, I hadn't thought seriously about being a writer, and after, I knew that I was. Ten months ago today we all went home. A year ago today, I had no idea what I was in for. But I know now how much the experience meant, and so I have some people I need to thank.

My family. I didn't tell them I was applying, but I wrote the first of my two application stories at my parents' house over the Christmas holidays. I was given time and space to write and people brought me coffee and took me to eat sushi. When I graduated law school, my grandparents gave me a check. I invested it, and that money meant that I could pay for Clarion, tuition and related expenses, without worrying. 

My friends. Oh, so many friends. Terri and Midori, who gave me a place to think seriously about fantasy literature and wished me luck. Nnedi, who answered all my questions and gave such good advice. Pat, who talked me through the panic when my second application story just stopped working.

Jen and Adam, who cooked me an amazing congratulations dinner, and gave me a generous gift card to a book store. (I bought books by my instructors, books my instructors recommended, and the unlined, soft-cover moleskine notebooks that I love to write in.) Dot and Scott. Dot drove to and from San Diego with me. When my car broke down, 163 miles from a mechanic who could fix it (I drive a Beetle. Which is, you know, foreign.) Dot kept me sane and found the only still-open rental car place so we could still go to see the Grand Canyon. Scott let me steal his wife, and, because he had read Storyteller, gave me a watergun as a going away gift. (Clarion 2009, I left it for you. Use it wisely. And often.) Sarah and Chris, who gave me a place to relax in between the road trip and moving in to the dorms, and took Dot and I to the best sushi ever. Chris made us lemon bars, and Sarah helped drive my classmates from the airport to the dorms.

My dissertation advisor, Becky, who when I told her that I was going to take two months off from the dissertation to go to San Diego and write speculative fiction, gave me a hug and told me that was great. The chair of my dissertation committee, John, who, in a conversation in his office, gave me the phrase that became my second submission story, and will be my next novel.

My amazing neighbors, Holly, Mike, and Sierra, who let my pug, Sam I Am, live with them while I was gone, and let me call on the days that I just needed to hear him snort. He still walks right in the front door of their house like it is his. And Dorene, Tracy, and Holly, who took care of my cats when my house sitter cancelled on the day I moved into the dorms.

And my fellow students and instructors: Megan, Lauren, Crystal, Sarah, Monica, Steffi, Keffy, GrĂ¡, Ferrett, Dana, Emily, Dan, Damien, Durand, E. J., Paul, Mary, Kelly, Jim, Mary Anne, Neil, Nalo, and Geoff. Everything story I ever tell will owe something to you.

Thank you. I love you all.


  1. You must meet Theodora Goss sometime. She, too, got a law degree (Harvard) and then decided to get an English PhD (currently teaching & doing her diss - on The Gothic - at B.U.), because she really, really wanted to be a writer....

    Ellen Kushner (because my commenting account is sometimes squirrelly)

  2. Ellen,

    I did get to meet Dora at conference I organized. She was completely lovely, and the sheer brilliance of her writing is such an inspiration to me.

  3. From law to literature. Reminds me of me a little. I was prusuing a degree in Sports Medicine but then decided to pursue my dream of writing instead. Like you, if those around me hadn't encouraged me it's highly doubtful that I would have.