I spoke to graduate students at Columbia today. The usual. How to find an agent, how to put a proposal together, how to turn your dissertation into a trade book. How to write a query letter. To attach or not to attach pages. Make multiple submissions or not. All the important talmudic questions in the great book of publishing life. Walking through the campus, I gave a nod to the staircase that leads to Dodge Hall, home of the writing divisions. I still remember my first day of school, intimidated beyond belief, attempting to look cool and like I knew where I was going, when I tripped and was splayed out on those steps. Before I could even tell if I was hurt, I popped back up and hoped no one had been looking. The fall caught up with me later, or it foreshadowed greater collapse to come. But I always remember that fall, the symbolic freight it imported on a young woman thrilled out of her mind to be attending an MFA program, to starting her life after a disastrous undergraduate careerl
Now, twenty seven years later, me in a suit, me in knock off Prada’s, me with hubs and daughter, me with a fuck wad of information about how to get published, me climbing the stairs and handling it. Me telling the young man in the back, that he should throw himself into his writing when he asked what was more important: putting all your energy into writing what you believe in or expanding your platform through social media. I don’t think I said follow your dream, but I meant it.
Who were you then and who are you now?
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