Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Unexpected rewards

Thirty years ago I was in a writing class taught by John Irving. I was a junior in college, The World According to Garp had just come out in mass market paperback and continued to dominate bestseller lists.  I was lucky to get into the class: I was an undergraduate, and so a terrible writer by definition. Every other student in the class was far more talented. It didn’t help that I was in complete gape-mouthed awe of him and could barely speak in his presence.

Flash forward to January 2010, speaking to the editor who would buy my book. Do I think John Irving might blurb me, I was asked. Highly unlikely, I think. It’s been three decades. I was not one of the bright lights. He’s taught hundreds of writers at Breadloaf, for goodness sake! He has a policy of not blurbing his students. We can try, I offered.

The editor has a friend who knows Irving. I write a letter to Irving that will go with the galley through the friend, and it brings back memories. I think of him and think of everything I hoped to be someday but had known I probably never would.

He called my editor today. He’s going to try to read the book. No promises – he could dislike it and regret ever having taught my ass – but I will remember today for the rest of my life. I’m crying a little as I write this. Moments like these are the most amazing thing about finally – finally – selling a book.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Alma, I'm so glad I ran across the blurb to your post on Writer Unboxed today because it was so timely. I was unpacking a box and ran across a journal from ten years ago in which I wrote about a novel I was sending out to agents. I felt bittersweet reading it because I was sorry that it had taken me so long to make any progress. I'm glad to see that you never gave up your dream. And I hope John Irving has the good taste to give you a blurb.
    Best of luck with your debut!
    Author of Mrs. Tuesday's Departure