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The tell-all memoir I decided not to tell

I read the email between my two teaching periods at the University of Arizona. “Emily,” it said, “we got the offer.”

I was 30, about to finish grad school, and a walking cliché. Soon I’d have a master’s degree in creative writing, and if I didn’t sell the book I’d just written, I had no plan B. My agent’s emails had gotten shorter with every publishing house that turned us down. “From Simon & Schuster: I’m afraid it didn’t grab me with the same intensity all the way through,” had devolved to, “Generic pass from Scribner.” We were both about to give up.

Then, at last: Emily, we got the offer.

I waltzed into my classroom and told my freshmen, “I know you don’t care, but I’m publishing a book.”

Funny thing: I was wrong twice just then. One, they did care, some of them, and we had a very sweet talk about perseverance, a lecture I could have used but not led just 10 minutes earlier. Two, I wasn’t publishing the book. Though I couldn’t imagine it at the time, within a few months I would change my mind. I’d walk away from my oldest and dearest dream.

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