I was in a writing group, and we would read work aloud every week. And we paid a modest sum to the leader. It was actually Philip Schultz, who now teaches; he has a place called the Writers Studio. He had a number of students, and we could all read every week if we wanted, but the way he made that manageable was to have us stop when he thought the group had heard enough. And I was reaching that point after, like, a page, because my work was terrible. And I kept thinking, Oh God, if I could just read more, if they could just hear the rest. I would always get stopped after about a page. And then I finally wrote a story that he let me read all the way through. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more of a clear triumph, a sense of finally having crossed over a chasm.
It’s a story called “One Piece.” It’s in my story collection. It’s about a girl whose older brother has inadvertently caused their mother’s death. And he’s very damaged by that. And it’s how in certain ways she saves him. I published it in the North American Review. It’s the first story I ever placed. So that was also really exciting.
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