Thanksgiving

Gratitude for my teachers. A few years ago I picked up a book at the library because I was attracted to the cover and also the promise of a ghost. I quickly fell in love with the author, Joshilyn Jackson’s combination of grit, humor, empathy and sincerity. (I’ll read pretty much anything, but it must be sincere.) Some time after that I finally settled a twenty-year-long debate I had been having with myself and applied to (and was accepted by) Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in fiction. Joshilyn Jackson was an instructor for one semester there, and in the lovely way that sometimes happens, that semester was also my first in attendance. Furthering the loveliness (!) she was assigned as my mentor. I could write a great deal about my twenty-year pursuit of the novel form, but perhaps this sentence says enough? At any rate, I came to Vermont College with the draft of a novel, and the same questions I had struggled with for much of my adult life about how to make a novel out of this thing of words and sentences. I couldn’t have asked for a more generous , insightful teacher than Joshilyn. I still keep, and suspect I always will, all her letters and in-draft notes on my novel. Recently, when stuck on something I was writing, I turned to this old advice; knowing it wasn’t written for this new work, it still applies. One of the great disappointments for me in my writing life has been the pettiness, stinginess, competitiveness and, very sadly, the tendency toward purity tests that exist in the culture — one of the great delights has been the generous attitude of those who have gone before and are willing to reach a hand back to help others along. Joshilyn Jackson did that for me. She has a new novel out this month, SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY. I highly recommend it. “I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.” First paragraph OF SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY @ Joshilyn Jackson

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