Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Remembering a Teacher

I read at The Elegant Variation that one of my early creative writing teachers died. Arturo Vivante was a visiting writer at Northwestern University a million years ago when I took his fiction workshop. To be honest, I can’t remember anything specific that I learned from him—anything specific that I wrote or read—or anyone else from that class—or much about him at all, except that we were all so very impressed because he published short stories in The New Yorker. (More than 70, according to this obituary in the New York Times.)

Here’s what I do remember: One day, after class, as I was reading over his comments at the end of my story that had been workshopped, I saw that he had written, “You should send this to The New Yorker. Here’s the name of my editor, and tell her I suggested you send this to her.”


Frankly, this story had no business being in The New Yorker—as the editor graciously and kindly wrote back to say—but I will always be grateful to Mr. Vivante (I can’t even remember if we called him that or Arturo) for taking notice of a striving undergraduate and giving her a little bit of hope and attention when it was needed.

No story of mine has appeared in The New Yorker (yet!)…but today, remembering this long ago teacher, it’s nice to think that there was one person in the world who thought that maybe one of them could have been there.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.