Note to readers: My friend Katie Rose Guest Pryal (who is also a talented novelist) and I are writing letters to each other and cross-posting on each other’s blog. Check out her site here, and see our previous letter in my archives.
We’ve been writing about how we met 14 years ago at a writer’s workshop, and I was just thinking: Now we’re both teaching workshops. I’m teaching narrative writing through a university here in my town, and you teach book arts at the very same retreat in the mountains where we first met.
The students are now the teachers. That’s a trip.
I wrote a blog post recently about how amazing my creative writing students are. How brave and bold and kind and full of spirit. I think you have to be brave to sign up for a writing (or any arts) workshop. In the end, what are you doing in a workshop but saying—to what are probably total strangers—“Here, here is the work of my soul. Do your worst.”
Most people, probably, would rather jump off a cliff.
So I adore my students. From your instagram feed, I can tell that you adore your students, too. Your students’ creations are incredible. I don’t have to be in the room to know you are a great teacher.
Today, at the end of class, my students clapped. They actually clapped. It’s not even the last class. I called my husband and told him, and he asked, “Did you blush?”
And you know me. I blush for no one. But I didn’t mind. These courageous, kind, bold, brave students can make me blush all day long.
I’ve been bringing them books as presents, too. I’m going to run out of books if I keep doing this, but you’ve seen my house—I’m overrun by books. So today I brought in books to give out as gifts, books that might inspire, or help lead a new writer down a new path. It felt good to give away books that had once inspired me.
It felt good to become the teacher.