BETWEEN THE LINES

How Lee Hope changed my life

April 18, 2016

Tags: Lee Hope, MFA, Stonecoast

Itís not always easy to remember a single moment when your life path changes, but for me it was a summer afternoon in 2003. Three years earlier, I had started writing fiction. I was in my fifties and happy in my nurse practitioner career. But I had always wanted to write novels and stories. It turned out to be much harder than I anticipated, and that summer I signed up for the Stonecoast Writers Conference in Maine.

My workshop leader was Manette Ansay and she was terrific. But she was (correctly) pretty critical in workshop about the story I submitted for the conference and about my writing. I had a lot to learn and I wasnít at all sure I had the talent to be a writer.

On the last day of the week-long conference, participants were invited to read aloud a short excerpt, five minutes maybe, to the conference community. We gathered in rows of folding chairs set up on the grass under a tent; it was a hot afternoon. I donít remember what I read. What I do remember is this: as I walked back to my seat, Lee Hope, the director of the program stopped me. She leaned over and whispered, ďI want you to come to our MFA program.Ē

Lee had talked to us all about the MFA the day before, and the idea was bouncing around a bit in my brain. I didnít see how I would manage it, even a low residency program, with my full-time job. And, like I said, I wasnít at all sure I had what it takes to be a real writer.

Leeís comment changed everything. That moment, I knew I would apply for the program. I knew I would be accepted. I knew I would love it. I knew I would write novels and stories and people would read them. All those things came true.

Like I said, Lee Hope changed my life.