Articles in this series

6 responses to “Writer Interrupted Part 1”

  1. Sue Jewell

    Dick – I’m in awe of writers who can deal with the inevitable rejections and keep at it. My self-concept has always been too fragile. There’s a theory I used to talk about in my class on contemporary sports issues that would attribute my inability to handle criticism to a lack of sports opportunities for women (except the fortunate ones like your wife, in the smaller schools who had girls basketball, ‘though I’d have been hopeless at sports anyway) as we grew up. Men, the theory goes, have been coached/criticized as they grew up and were less likely to internalize and take personally negative feedback.

    I love your calling her “Maxine Perkins;” I’ve spent lots of my life brushing up against ole Max as I studied and taught Fitzgerald and Hemingway. His lone encouraging rejection to FSF was the beginning of a stellar career; I think your name for Vonna indicates that she’s been your muse despite the editing!

    And I loved the mention of Shaw’s “Eighty-Yard Run;” I taught that story in the seventies and always thought it was Shaw’s homage to FSF’s characters whom he based on Hobie Baker, his Princeton hero role model.

    Your Hemingway nod to The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio also made me smile; it must be a literary pleasure for you and your wife to have found each other. The closest I’ve had to that in my solitary life has been my circle of colleagues who kept me on my toes every day of our careers and still do at our Friday breakfasts, ‘though the Dorothy Parker of our Original Pancake House Round Table of the group died nearly two years ago and is sorely missed.

    Your wife’s inability to resist marking up the things you write must’ve been in the water in Buena Vista County, as I also have the syndrome. I sometimes have to sit on my hands to avoid taking a pen to the newspaper or a book.

    Such fun to have this day brightened! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dick

      Hi Sue!

      If you are still involved in teaching writing, maybe you could give a shout out to your colleagues about this site. The “For Teachers” section provides articles and discussions about teaching writing, plus links to other resources for students and teachers of writing, and writing program organizers.

      Also I bet you would enjoy the Workshop book this blog is actually about. The comments from many writers of the mid-’70s tranche of Iowa Workshop grads are full of impressions, anecdotes, ideas—some withering anti-ideas and ideals about writing too. We Wanted to Be Writers just came out, is on Amazon, and is itching to get onto some bedside tables. Right up your alley!

      Stay tuned for more posts by the Hokum Meister. Hah!

      dc – (Ye Ole Gas Bard of North Park, CA)

  2. Don

    Wonderfully told, Dick. We’ve all been there–most of us, anyway. But your story could be the opening of a classic tale, Fred Exley crossed with Norman Maclean. In fact, it has everything a popular entertainment should–Brad Pitt plays you, of course–wait, I’m sounding like your agent!


  3. Cindy Martin

    I’m dying laughing. Love this! Now gotta read Part II.

  4. Dick Cummins class of '70

    QHC – careful not to scratch a laugh – cause it just might start to cry… dc

  5. John Casey

    Dick–Among the many gems life and your own good narrative sense put into your essay is the guy’s finding your flotsam (or is it jetsam? –I think jetsam as in thrown away) and sending the crate back to you
    I laughed a laugh that had a lot of bitter roots. I wish there were more words for different laughs. David Foster Wallace in the footnotes to “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” is another guy who made me laugh in a new flavor.
    And your advice to the woman who wrote you a congratulatory comment– look for We Wanted to be Writers. I’ll take that advice.

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