Writing It Down

The Word Hospital

She worked at a university advertised on matchbook covers, a correspondence school in Chicago. “Learn to Be a Writer! Fun, Fame, Profit! Just 12 Easy Lessons.” By day she read the stories written by housewives in Syracuse, Missoula, Orlando. By night she went to singles bars.

At Christmas her father had sent a complete set of the Oxford English Dictionary, all thirteen volumes, full-size; they lay beneath her bed, pulling her down. Each one weighed more than the stones in Virginia Woolf’s pocket when she walked into the River Ouse.

Her father wrote often. “How are you? Are you writing?” Writing was the theme of his correspondence.

She did not write letters, poems, stories, novels, plays, essays, or reviews; she was a not-writer, an unwriter.

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