Four years ago, right around Valentine's Day, 2 pretty amazing things happened. I became pregnant with my son and I enrolled in an advanced Fiction class with Susan Hankla at the Virginia Museum Studio School. The class, that met every Tuesday night from 7-10pm from February to May, managed to pull me out of the vast, barren desert of non-writing-hell that had been eating away at my soul. At long last, deadlines, page requirements, critiques. Oh, hair-pulling, nail-biting happiness! And not only was my writing given vital resucitation, I was seated across from a boy who looked exactly like Ben Affleck. I swear, I'm not the only one who thought so! All the women in the class took a vote on it one day when he was in the bathroom. Anyway, this boy was from Texas, worked both at Home Depot and Style Weekly and wrote sentences that made you weep, spit, laugh and venture into a week-long spiral of self-reflection. So, one day during the break, when I asked how he got a job writing, he asked me, as if it were a reasonable question, why I didn't have a job writing as well. All I could do was sputter. I had no answer. Not a good one. (I've just had an adrenalectomy, a myomectomy and pancreatitits? True, yes, but a good enough reason not to write? Hmmm.) I spent the whole week thinking about it, trying to come up with a witty, concise response. During class the next week, I ran up to him: "I have a million excuses for not writing in the past, but I can't come up with any good excuses for the present." And that (after some trial and error, trial by fire & blind, dumb luck) was the beginning of my writing career! P.S.-- My friend no longer looks like Ben Affleck, unless Ben Affleck were to get a bigger brain and grow some good facial hair, but he has stayed my friend and we have actually grown a circle of friends who are all wonderful writers, resembling Hollywood and Bollywood heartthrobs, living and dead. SO, after a string of crazy, freelance articles, two days before I had my baby, I was offered the job of Book Editor at Style Weekly. That VMFA class was definitely a good investment.