I have been blessed with an army of writing teachers. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some here, but these were so important to my growth as a person and a writer that their names are engraved on my heart. Let this be my thank you to them.
- Eleanor Perrone, who taught my first creative writing class at Flushing High School and allowed me to “student teach” a session of the class my senior year. I watched the other students tear each other apart, looking for a crumb of approval for being so vicious. I felt it was my job to encourage, rather than condemn. Thanks to Ellie, I believed that it’s possible for everyone to tell a good story and learn to write.
- The Flint Area Writers accepted me when I was still in high school and taught me to give and receive criticism gracefully. I’d especially like to thank Trilby Plants, Fran Bacus, and Diane Carey.
- At the University of Michigan Department of English, I studied with George Garrett, Alison Hagy, Tish Ezekiel, and William Hollinger, Jr. From them, I learned about literary fiction and how to avoid writing what you know, just like every other student living in a dorm room. They made me want to live, in order to have something interesting to write about.
- The Clarion Writers Workshop taught me about the hard work of writing and revising on a deadline. My teachers were Algis Burdys, Joyce Thompson, John Kessel, Thomas Disch, Kate Wilhelm, and Damon Knight.
- At the Kansas University Science Fiction Writing Workshop, James Gunn told me that I couldn’t write the sort of stories I wanted to write and expect to become the next Ray Bradbury. Either I could drop writing about queer characters and stick to the mainstream, or the best I could hope for was to become the next J. G. Ballard. That still seems like a worthy goal.
- Jane Underwood taught my first introduction to personal essay class in 2002. She wouldn’t let me drop out when my brother died and I had to go home for his funeral. She said the most important thing I could do at that painful time was to write — and she was exactly correct.
- The Red Room Writers Society allowed me the time and space to write when my daughter was an infant. I’m particularly grateful to Ivory Madison and Venus Klinger, who helped me to remember my joy in writing.
- I was blessed to be a member of The Paramental Appreciation Society, which held me accountable to literary standards on a monthly basis for four years. I learned more than I can say from Claudius Reich, Seth Lindberg, Lilah Wild, A.M. Muffaz, and Mason Jones. I think I miss the writers group most of all.
Who taught you what you needed to know?