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You were wrong, Professor Collins

Fifty years ago, as a college sophomore, I enrolled in a short story writing course taught by Harry Collins (not his real name). It was the only creative writing class I ever took and I got a C in it. According to Dr. Collins, my stories lacked verisimilitude and were weak in character development. Heedless of my instructor, over the subsequent decades I’ve published eight books — including one novel — and scores of articles, essays, short stories, and poems, each one a refutation of Prof. Collins’s discouraging words. I may have become a writer to dispel his perception that I wasn’t one.

Each week Harry would read and discuss several stories in class, and he selected my initial story — about a young man in war — for oral rendering. I sensed that he didn’t like it, because his reading was interspersed with sighs. My premonition proved accurate when upon completion Harry looked up from the podium and said, “Class, what’s wrong with this story?”

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