This morning, class discussed one of my recent pieces, "Too Much King Arthur" (a name that must change). What amazed me about the discussion was not that they liked it, because people have liked my work before, after all. Rather, it was that there they were, nine people, focused for an hour and a half on my story, on a detailed, in-depth, serious discussion of it. That they should consider it worthy of that...I think it came home to me today what a gift this time in graduate school has been. When May arrives and I finish and the monthly loan bills start arriving, I must remember this; I must remember what it feels like to have colleagues whose work you respect, colleagues who are talented writers and critics in their own right, to have such people seriously discuss the merits and flaws of your writing. Interestingly, I think I had to start taking my own work seriously before this could really happen -- or rather, until I could see it happening. I've been getting mail from readers for a long time, readers who took my writing more seriously than I did. Maybe I should have been listening to them more carefully. Maybe I would have wasted less time.