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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Midwest ’11

I seem to be making a habit of visiting Minnesota and Wisconsin in the autumn. This trip was even better than last year–not only did I get to spend QT with Jill, Sarah, and Maggie and her family, but I also got to meet my cousin, Brother John, who teaches Spanish at a Catholic boys’ school, St. Lawrence.


Brother John’s colleagues invited me to speak to the English and creative writing classes, which was TONS of fun. You would not believe how nice and friendly and polite these kids are. I may be a grown woman, but I’m still afraid of teenage boys–every time I pass a group of them on the street my inner 14-year-old whimpers oh no, they’re going to make fun of me!–so you can imagine how surprised and delighted I was when boys kept coming up to me to shake my hand. “You must be the author! I’m so-and-so. Welcome to St. Lawrence! I’m looking forward to hearing your talk tomorrow.”

Yup. Seriously.


The students came prepared with questions, so once I’d gotten the preliminaries out of the way (and shown them the engagement portrait that inspired Mary Modern, mentioning that Anna and Paul are Brother John’s ancestors too) we spent the rest of each class period doing a Q&A. I think I’ll answer some of them again here on the blog, since they’re questions I get asked a lot. (How long does it take you to write a novel? How do you choose a point of view? Do you outline?)

I got to chat with several of the boys after class too, and they kept asking me for autographs (haha)—even on their jack-o-lantern!


Then I came home, and this was in the mail:


I opened the card, and literally gasped. I’m amazed they could fit this many signatures.


My experience at St. Lawrence really cemented my desire to teach. I don’t know that I’ll necessarily end up teaching creative writing at the high school level, but I can say for sure that I can’t think of anything more rewarding than helping people discover and appreciate great literature while nurturing their own voices.

(You hear that, universe? I WANT TO TEACH!)

4 Comments to Midwest ’11

  1. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    November 8, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Is it wrong that my first thought was, “I think that’s the Owls sweater!”? This is such a great story — I think the universe wants you to teach too.

  2. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It’s the Midwest–everyone is nice out there…or at least that’s what Elliot claims 😉

  3. Kelly's Gravatar Kelly
    November 26, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    This is so lovely!

  4. November 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Teenage boys CAN be intimidating. I say that not only as a 40-something woman but as the mother of three recently teenage boys myself.
    I work in an all-male halfway house for recovering alcoholics and addicts and I was JUST thinking the other day that the only ones I really have trouble “disciplining” are the youngest ones–the 18 or 19 year olds and it hit me that it’s because I want them to think I’m “cool” or something. I think that must be one of those things that get hard-wired into us in adolescence and never really go away.
    Glad you enjoyed your experience. 🙂

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.