When I lived in North Carolina, I took writing workshops from a wonderful writer and woman named Gilda Morina Syverson. She was encouraging and helpful in and out of the workshops as I wrestled with the idea of getting my MFA, and finally applied and began my program (she also wrote one of my recommendations!). She was incredibly well tuned in to all of her students' work, which was incredibly varied. When I teach, I always try to channel Gilda--her calm, her energy for each person's story, her drive to help us make our writing better, her ability to keep the group on track. My fellow writers in her groups always shared fascinating stories, no matter how ordinary they seemed on the surface. One of the toughest things about leaving Charlotte two years ago was knowing that I left behind a great mentor and peers.
Thankfully, Gilda and I have kept in touch, and there have been many times that I've emailed her to vent, ask advice, or tell her about a small writing/teaching victory. (And to congratulate her on the publication of her own memoir, My Father's Daughter: From Rome to Sicily. Check it out!) She's also the one who encouraged me to get back to journal writing, even--especially!--in the most chaotic of times. Even 250 miles down the road, I'm lucky to have her.
And now I get to return ("for one night and one night only!") to take part in a memoir reading along with my fellow students, not far from my favorite little town on earth. I'm really looking forward to reading my piece, can't wait to hear what others will share, and I'm so grateful to still be considered a student of Gilda's. If you're in the area on October 22, I'd love to see you there!