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Wednesday Writing Therapy: Mary Gaitskill’s Advice to a Young Writer

If I had any kind of "genius" as a kid, it was as a reader. In third grade, I read books out in the hall while the rest of the class filled in blanks in early readers and slid their markers down the margins. Or something like that.

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I wrote, too, stories and poems, and after college for a couple of years, too, where, in Chicago, I ended up managing a resume writing office, so I wrote those too along with cover & follow up letters. Around 1991, I stopped, went into teaching and never went back to writing until 2004. From 2000 to 2004, I suffered from 24-hour undiagnosed panic attacks, and I've not until recently made the connection between finally getting a diagnosis & panic-management plan and returning to writing.

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Recently, I came across a signed copy of Mary Gaitskill's Two Girls Fat and Thin. My roommate in Chicago worked with, I think, her sister or some other close relative. She signed it, it would seem, in 1991, right around the time I stopped writing for thirteen years and turned elsewhere.

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Mary Gaitskill.jpg

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That's the title of this book I've begun: The Rip-Snortinest, Ass-Kickinest, Sniff-n-Scratchiest Book Ever. It is, as it seems most of the things I set out to do, such as getting up each morning, begun by setting myself against that panic. Although I in no way connect Gaitskill's wish for me (to write such a book) with my own choice in 1991 not to write (ever) again, I do wonder about these two events, and as I, 19 years later, rediscover this wish for me, I come (finally) to this Wednesday's Therapy: Go back and find some note that you've forgotten from someone you admired. Find within that note a title. And write to it the way you've always dreamed you might.

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One comment

From susan buchler

I’m a big fan of Mary Gaitskill’s sto­ries. I was first introced to her at a writ­ing con­fer­ence, and I quick­ly read every­thing.

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