I guess there is some code behind this writing business, and I don’t have it.

But I also think what happened to me in that program is what a lot of women experience, as well as many others who are just getting admitted into this arena of literature. My teachers understood my educational path but still expected me to know a lot more than I did, and they rejected my writing about the life experiences I had actually had. I remember one teacher not only refusing to workshop a story I wrote but announcing to the class that she was doing so. It was a very lightly fictionalized story about one of my cousins. The teacher told the class she found it “violent.” I felt humiliated and I did not understand—I was told to write what I knew, then when I did, that what I knew was not okay. And the fact was that there had been a great deal of violence in my life. One day a fellow student in that class turned in a poem about driving home to her very rich suburb in Connecticut, and wearing furs, and touring Europe for the summer. The teacher loved it. At that point I thought: I guess there is some code behind this writing business, and I don’t have it.

Susanne Paola Antonetta

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