Part of the experience at Squaw is that each participant is alloted a one-on-one session (minimum of 20 minutes) with a staff member (a writer, an editor, or an agent). Last year I met with Andrew Tonkovich of the Santa Monica Review for an hour. He was absolutely great. Helpful, intelligent, generous with his time, and full of great suggestions for improvement. I revised the story we looked at and do feel that it is a lot stronger now.

This year, my one-on-one was with Dorothy Allison. As soon as I found that out, I was filled with excitement (Dorothy Allison!!!), dread (would she hate me and find my writing crappy and superficial?), and regret (oh how I wished I had sent another story!! I was so worried she would think it was stupid). To add to my anxiety, I was set to meet with her on Friday afternoon–the last day of workshop and also the day after she gave her mind-blowing reading.

Dorothy was absolutely encouraging, gracious, helpful, and didn’t find me stupid at all (at least not that she let on). It was a fantastic meeting and made me admire her even more, which I hadn’t thought possible. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I do want to say that from my 30 minutes with her, I felt–for possibly the first time ever–completely validated as a writer.

And I have to say, that for me there is nothing better than that in this writing life. Nothing.

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