I just love these writer stories on NPR, and they seem to serve them up once or twice a week. This one is a commentary by Christian Bauman about his mentors.
"There's never really an answer to the question, 'where did you learn how to write?' anymore than there's an answer to, 'where did you learn how to raise children', " he says.
Christian Bauman is the author of The Ice Beneath You which I have not read, though some of the reviews I've seen are very good, like this one and this one. What's even cooler is that he grew up in Doylestown, PA very close to where I live now, and he now lives in New Jersey, where I grew up.
As an aspiring, and until recently, unpublished writer, I fins encouragement in his story of origin. He says, "high school didn't work out for me... nevermind thoughts of an MFA in writing." But don't take that to mean he never got an education. After spending an unsuccessful year trying to market his first novel (The Ice Beneath You), he took his manuscript back to the couple who originally, and unwittingly, inspired him. They played good cop/bad cop with him, the wife cooing over his book and then leaving the room, the husband simply saying, "we need to talk," as he tapped his finger on the manuscript.
"Where did you learn to write?" In the end, the only way he can answer is to point to those who made the investment in him; even if they didn't know at the time what they were doing. I know I'll keep thinking of Chris Bauman's story as I labor over the late stages of this book (proposal); as I struggle through many daily moments of uncertainty as to whether or not I have anything worthwhile to say; as I regularly lament the fact that I got a business degree instead of the MFA I cannot now afford.