A few girls refused to come into my dorm room. The Ouija board frightened them. A young man who lived in the dorm next door told me I was in danger because I had a Tarot card board. When I pointed out to him that my mom had painted the board and it was the last thing she gave me before she died (and about three months before this conversation), he insisted I get rid of the board anyway because “Satan was clever that way.”
A coworker said I was a lesbian because I took a class called–Women in Literature. The headmaster at a school in Bulgaria told the other teachers I was having an affair with a married man. He said this after I ignored his advances. A classmate in high school drew a picture of me sitting on a car dressed like a hooker. He passed it around the school. I don’t even know why. After that movie, Something about Amelia was on TV, kids at school would say to me, “So, what’s it like to live alone with your dad?”
Once in a while I ask my students what they think about writers and artists. Do they know any? No, my students say. What do they think creative people are like? I ask. They’re crazy. They’re depressed. They’re intelligent. They’re wild. They’re free. They drink, have affairs, and die early, my students reply.
How do you feel when you tell people you’re a writer? What kind of reactions do you get? How is being a writer now as a grown-up different than what you thought it would be when you first pinned your hopes on the page?