We had a delightful reception in a private home last night, complete with strong cuba libres and made to order quesadillas. Meeting Grace, and her husband Bob, was a total delight. Grace isn't quite the elfin sprite I'd heard about, but she is tiny and mischevious. And this morning we had our first workshop meeting, with participants introducing themselves. We have lots of manuscripts to review in subsequent sessions, so this one was more casual, with opportunities to ask Grace questions. She is self-efacing, but full of wisdom. Bob also is a writer, and Grace says he has wonderful work habits, writing every day. Of herself, she says, quoting Bob, she "has no habits whatsoever."
I wanted to follow up on something I'd read in one of her essays about the novel she started once upon a time. She'd published her first collection, in like 1959, and her publisher, Doubleday, wanted her to write a novel. She felt obligated to try (Philip Roth and Tillie Olsen published collections at about that time and got the same instructions from their publishers, with mixed results), so she spent 2 years working on a novel that wasn't working. It absorbed so much energy that it was another 10 years before her next collection came out.
More wisdom from Grace to come.