Just looking at the List of 2008 NEA Literature Fellows. Looks like three writers I've worked with were recognized, which confirms my suspicion that I've had good teachers. Congratulations to William Henry Lewis, Courtney Brkic and Nick Arvin.
They are great writers and I can honestly say that each of them really helped me to remake flawed stories. I gave Courtney 247 pages to read and she got back to me in less than a week with deep, insightful and very helpful commentary. I re-wrote several stories on Courtney's command. One won an award and it wouldn't even have existed, if Courtney hadn't suggested it.
As for my man, Big Bank Hank, if you haven't read his work, it's time to pick it up. Start with "Shades," the opening story in his Pen/Faulkner nominated collection I Got Somebody in Staunton. It's a real moving story. I thought I was numbed of all emotion before I read the thing. I had a workshop with him last summer at Colgate Writers Conference and he is at least as good a teacher as he is a writer. Hank brought a real infectious excitement to his teaching. He's a real giving dude.
I didn't work as closely with Nick as with the other two, but I kept his comments on one my stories in my head for an entire year until I sat down to revise. I was really afraid to approach the desire of one of my characters until he made it clear that half-stepping was hurting the story.
I'm glad for these three and everyone else honored, but mostly these three because I'm self-centered like that.
On another note, I didn't get into Bread Loaf Writers' Conference as expected and I don't care because of recent events and I probably wouldn't care anyway. I only mention it, because writer Tayari Jones, as usual, has inspiring and nurturing words for us losers over on her blog. I had nearly forgotten about my Bread Loaf rejection when I read her post and was like, Thanks for reminding me that I didn't get in Tayari, thanks. But then she takes it a step further and posts a playlist of inspirational songs to blast when facing rejection. She has some pretty good tracks up there, take a listen. I might post my own playlist, the soundtrack to the book I'm working on. I stole all these songs so I can burn them onto a CD and listen to them in my car and the fucking CD burner on my piece-of-shit Dell stops working. If there was ever I time I needed some inspirational music, it's now.