Grad school was going to be my lifeline out of Richmond, to standing on my own, and when I didn’t get accepted anywhere I realized I was going to be stuck there for another year. The day I met her she was walking ahead of me on a path at the conference.Tags: Analysis Comparative EssayEssay Speaking ListeningLiterature Review Sample TemplateTiananmen Square EssaysPais Warwick DissertationResearch Proposal BackgroundPhotosythesis Word Equation
I had met them two years before at a writers’ conference in Eastern Kentucky and I thought them among the smartest people I had ever met. “You made it.” He rose from his chair to greet me and shake my hand. We were all there to take in spring training baseball, an annual trip organized by Lee and Hal.
“You’ve come down to hang with us old timers,” he said with a smile. I’m happy to be here.” He introduced me to the other regulars on the trip, a smattering of writers and academics from the Triangle area of North Carolina, and I shook each of their hands. The group consisted of both die-hards and apathetic fans.
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Four months later, when 9/11 happened, I was still unemployed, feeling useless and miserable, and the economy, as a result of the attacks, became even worse.
By then I had moved to Richmond, Virginia with my brother and he was paying our rent, our food, our everything.Across the street a Live oak draped in Spanish moss fronted Spring Bayou, where the sun glimmered off the water’s surface. I was meeting friends, mentors really, older writers who, for reasons that continue to elude me ten years later, had taken an interest and reached out to help me. These were very successful people and I wasn’t sure why they would pick this run-down and out of the way place to stay but they’d said it had something to do with its charm.Dubious, I walked into the office of the Tarpon Inn anyway and collected my key.I hadn’t published a single story and yet in a few hours I would be at a baseball game with these people who I knew, within 15 minutes of meeting them, that I wanted to be someday.* * * * I went to graduate school because I wanted to be a writer. I did not read women then partly because I was an idiot but also because I was trying to understand how men wrote about men.I wasn’t so dumb to think I could cram for the LSAT, but I had a feeling the book remained untouched in my room all term because I didn’t really want to go to law school. I had no idea what that was and my professors didn’t really seem to know, either. All I knew was that to be a writer it seemed one needed to get one of these degrees and the secret to publishing a story or even a book might lie in getting one. I had accepted a job with my fraternity as a traveling consultant for the year after graduation. I fully believed this job would tide me over for two years and then I’d apply to get my MFA and, before long, I’d have my own capsule-sized bio in the back of . My responsibilities as a consultant involved driving from chapter house to chapter house, checking in with the members, and with the university administrators in charge of Greek life.I kept finding other things to do rather than study, like reading Raymond Carver stories and then rereading them. So when I read I devoted my senior year to completing a collection of short stories as an Honors Thesis. The travel schedule was brutal—two chapters per week—and exceedingly lonely.I was somewhere in the middle and seeing Lee and Hal again it was clear I had come down from Tallahassee to spend time with them. During the introductions the names of some of the people were familiar and others I knew from the reputation of their books. The ones I didn’t know I would find out how important they were by the end of the first day.It was 2004 and I was 26, finishing up my second semester of graduate school.I’d find out later she shepherded lots of young writers, that giving back and mentoring was an ethos she lived by, but on that day she was this famous writer and she had taken an interest in me, however briefly.The next day I befriended Hal by talking baseball with him and when the fall arrived and I prepared my second batch of applications, I wrote to Lee and asked if she would read my manuscript.