Four months later, when 9/11 happened, I was still unemployed, feeling useless and miserable, and the economy, as a result of the attacks, became even worse.
In college, I had harbored that secret desire but it didn’t seem practical. I pushed myself into a pre-law curriculum, taking writing and English courses on the side and using them to fill nearly all my elective credits. I was trying to find models about the things I thought mattered to me as a would-be writer and I wasn’t aware that I might need to broaden my reading to broaden my experience. They saw something in my prose and I liked the physical work of writing.
The night before the LSAT I shuffled up to the library with my test prep book, its spine uncreased, in near pristine condition. I enjoyed staying up late and composing stories, recreating the world I had paid so much attention to as a boy in southeastern Kentucky.
Across the street a Live oak draped in Spanish moss fronted Spring Bayou, where the sun glimmered off the water’s surface. I was meeting friends, mentors really, older writers who, for reasons that continue to elude me ten years later, had taken an interest and reached out to help me. These were very successful people and I wasn’t sure why they would pick this run-down and out of the way place to stay but they’d said it had something to do with its charm.
Dubious, I walked into the office of the Tarpon Inn anyway and collected my key.
Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries.
We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market.She introduced herself—as if she had to—and asked about my writing and my plans.She asked me lots of questions and her concern was so genuine and true.He told me not to worry but to focus on my writing if that was what I really wanted to do. So I spent my mornings writing and my afternoons looking for jobs.During one really tough day I took an automated telephone interview to work as a clerk for Best Buy.I had met them two years before at a writers’ conference in Eastern Kentucky and I thought them among the smartest people I had ever met. “You made it.” He rose from his chair to greet me and shake my hand. We were all there to take in spring training baseball, an annual trip organized by Lee and Hal.“You’ve come down to hang with us old timers,” he said with a smile. I’m happy to be here.” He introduced me to the other regulars on the trip, a smattering of writers and academics from the Triangle area of North Carolina, and I shook each of their hands. The group consisted of both die-hards and apathetic fans.The novelist Lee Smith and her husband, journalist Hal Crowther.They were the ones who had invited me into the fold.I hadn’t published a single story and yet in a few hours I would be at a baseball game with these people who I knew, within 15 minutes of meeting them, that I wanted to be someday.* * * * I went to graduate school because I wanted to be a writer. I did not read women then partly because I was an idiot but also because I was trying to understand how men wrote about men.