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September 02, 2006



Mine is "I thought you came here to write?"

I cried four days after receiving my first David Bradley critique. Now, I miss him dreadfully. For a very long time I assumed it was because I like bullies, bastards, and assholes. But I think I miss him for an entirely different reason. He genuinely wanted me to become a better writer. And he also never-ever-ever told me I shouldn't write a story about a young women in love with Adolf Hitler, my massive novel undertaking in graduate school that has absolutely without a doubt become a life life-long, life enlightening, life changing experience. I'm a completely different woman now than four years ago.

David absolutely understood that, even before I did. Isn't that . . . I don't know. At loss for words.

Terrible Mother

That first David critique was rough, but it was the first workshop I had with him that was worse. In the middle of workshop of the Nathaniel and Becky story, he started throwing around the word "retard." He knew how much it burned me up. "Why the hell does TM have a retard in her story?" And "Do we even need a retard in here?" I hated him, told everyone I did.

But he was right about it. There was no reason, in that draft, for the kid to be in there. I was flinching, and David was toughening me, making me capable of looking at myself and my work more clearly.

So, when we workshopped my thesis in the spring (that's a new thing since you left--but David does this really amazing job at. You turn in your entire thesis to workshop and it's criqiqued like a story collection or novel. DB even writes, instead of a normal critique, a book review) and he said "How many retards do we need in one story collection?" it didn't even hurt.

It also helped that I had taken bets on how many times he'd use the word, or a derivative, even going so far as to set an over/under.

Another time, he took me out for coffee, this would be right after I seperated from John, and let me cry, then gave me an amazing pep talk. "You can't control him," he said. "But you can control you."

I know, A., I know. I don't know how David did what he did for us. Just don't know.



I love your stories here about David. I can hear him, I really can, saying the word, "Retard" in workshop twelve times. I'm writhing with jealousy knowing the Program now does thesis critiques. What a gift!


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