“Wow, I don’t know how I can compete with that,” she said. “That’s a tough act to follow!”
Jennifer, like everyone else in the class–a Creative Nonfiction Workshop–was a would-be writer, and, also like everyone else in the class, shared the same nervousness and reservations prior to a critique of her work.
Every week, we would read two essays, submitted by fellow Workshop students, and would then critique the essays during the next class. This particular class, held on a cold upstate New York November evening in the late 1990s, featured two essays that were very different in scope and tone. The first one, which we had just reviewed with glowing praise, was a ten-page tour de force of a young man’s experience backpacking through Europe the summer after he graduated from high school. It told, in clipped, precise prose, his adventures traveling through the small towns and rural beauty…
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