I’m super happy to share the good news that my former mentee, Margaret Grant, has just published her first story in The Kenyon Review! I’d call that an auspicious start to a writing career, but as is so often the case, what appears to be a debut is just a highlight in a hardworking writer’s life. Margaret has been writing for years, tucking away novels into drawers, as I’ve done myself. She was a fine writer when we met, which made my task of encouraging her pretty simple.
When I signed up as a mentor in the AWP Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program, I was sent an number of short stories by mentee applicants. I chose to work with Margaret because I admired the clarity and precision of those first pages of Arrieta 410—the story, I’m gratified to say, that’s now published. Her language showed great restraint, suggesting she already edited her work well. We started talking on the phone once a week, and over the course of a semester I read and commented on many of her stories. I encouraged her to go with her idea of a linked short story collection, which is now near completion and will be a fine first book.
But I’m particularly happy that Margaret is now published in The Kenyon Review because just six short years ago I first met and worked with Nancy Zafris as my mentor. Nancy was the former fiction editor, and still advisory board member, of that esteemed journal. Nancy generously helped me with my debut novel, River of Dust. After it was published I went out to The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, where I spoke to the students about my writing career up to that point and the helpful relationship with Nancy.
What goes around comes around, more so in the writing world than just about anywhere. The encouragement I received from Nancy has now been passed along to Margaret, and we’re all the lucky beneficiaries. Please check out Margaret Grant's beautiful story at The Kenyon Review on line and you’ll see what I mean. And pass along good karma, wherever you can!