This is a true story.

1.  Last Fall, Laura Maylene Walter — our very own Laura — published a piece in Poets & Writers called, I believe, “The Price of Submission” and wrote about it on her blog.  There’s a photo of Joan Didion on the cover, and y’all know how much I love My Joan Didion.

2.  My issue never arrived.  I was informed my subscription had expired.  How was this possible?!?!  I sent them a note.

3.  They promised to fix it and get me the Joan Didion issue.  Which never arrived.  In October, December, and January — I kid you not — I exchanged e-mails with Poets & Writers Customer Service.  They could not, no matter how they tried, get me a magazine.

4.  On January 23, they finally sent me an e-mail saying they were expediting the January/February issue and, not 2 days later, wrapped in brown paper like it was porn, the issue arrived on my doorstep.  Thank you Jaysus!  It wasn’t My Joan Didion, nor My Laura Maylene, but it was here.  I flipped 13 pages in, saw an ad for a writers’ conference, and turned one more page to read John Stazinski’s “A Novel Approach.”

5.  In the next day or so, Lyra told me to get over to Shanna’s blog and read the post about writing her memoir.  While reading through several of Shanna’s posts, there was this:  “When I first started writing this book, back in the dark ages of 2006, I optimistically applied to a handful of prestigious fellowships and conferences. Ignorance is bliss. When the MacDowell Colony asked me to enumerate my previous awards, adding the helpful parenthetical, “e.g.: Guggenheim, NEA, etc.,” I literally wrote in the allotted space, “You’re kidding, right?” 

6.  Ignorance is bliss.

7.  The next day, I was trying to work while men cut brick (with a screaming electric saw) outside my window.  I pulled out the Poets & Writers and spotted, again, that thing about a writer’s conference.  I’ve never been to a writers’ conference, never even applied as it seemed impossible-what’s-the-point-there-are-a-thousand-fucking-people-who-apply —- but since I couldn’t concentrate anyway, and I remembered Shanna’s “You’re kidding, right?”, I quick-filled-out some forms and formatted an essay to submit, pressed send, and promptly forgot all about it.

8.  This afternoon, I got an acceptance letter from the Yale Writers’ Conference, where the master classes will be led by Tom Perrotta and Julia Glass.

9.  Did you hear that?  An ACCEPTANCE LETTER.

10.   Tom Perrotta.  Julia Glass.  And more.


Thanks to the confluence of the above, come June, I’ll be spending two weeks at the Yale Writers’ Conference.

I’ve never been to New Haven.

Why do I keep thinking about Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw making snow angels?

31 thoughts on “Haven

  1. CJ

    A big giant congratulations! I’ve never met you still I’m so very proud of you right now. Missouri Girl you go.

  2. Sarah W

    OH, WOW!

    That’s fantastic, Teri! Congratulations!

    Let’s hear it for serendipity and questionable customer service—and your talented self!

    1. Teri

      It’s weird is what it is. I told my husband I’m waiting for the “no, we made a mistake” e-mail, because this is how my writer-mind works …. But Tom Perrotta? *swoon*

  3. Erika Marks

    (Close ears and prepare for copious squeeeeing)


    Teri, this, my dear, is HUGE. I couldn’t be prouder or more excited for you, lady. I’m toasting you as I write this.

    Brava, cara! Brava!!

    1. Teri

      Your squeeeeeing matches my squeezing, so we’re good. It’s so good, this thing. To say I was shocked by their acceptance note is an understatement…. Why do we writers always expect bad news.

  4. amyg

    i’m speechless.


    at first i was going to write something crass like, “shut the you know what up!” but that’s like bringing a $5.00 Walgreens giftcard to a royal wedding.

    tom perrotta and julia glass.

    you. yale.

    i’m a so very happy and excited for you. congratulations from the very bottom of my heart all the way up to my third eye.

    1. Teri

      Shut the f up is right, AmyG. 99.999% of the time, I feel like I’m working in a dark tunnel and, if there were an emergency, no one would know where to find me. I’d say FTF, but I don’t want to jinx it.

  5. Lyra

    GAH! Love, love, love! And GAH!
    Serendipity, baby.
    Sometimes you have to throw the cards in the air to see you’ve been holding the ace the whole damn time.
    I’m having a drink and cheers-ing to you, my dear friend.

  6. Downith

    One is .simply delighted for you.

    Nah, fuck that British reserve – YIPPEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Teri Carter, you go grrl! Yo go all the way to New Haven. So thrilled for you! You deserve this. WOOT! WOOT!

    1. Teri

      When I was little, I thought there were only 3 colleges in the world: Southeast Missouri State (located in our little town), Harvard (home of “The Paper Chase” TV show), and Yale (from “Love Story”). How lucky I feel to be able to set foot there.

  7. Catherine

    This is so true! The way one thing leads to another and you even forget your part in it and – wham! – the universe sends you a pat on the shoulder. I am really happy for you Teri. These things are meant to be!

    1. Teri

      It’s crazy how one thing really leads to the next thing, and the next. If I hadn’t been so obsessed about the Poets & Writers mag, and angry at them for being unable to fix whatever the problem was, this issue (with the ad for the Yale Conference) might have languished on my bedside table until the deadline had passed. Etc…

  8. lizisilver

    Teri, this is so wonderful and unexpected and thrilling–and you deserve every moment of it. I will eagerly await dispatches from the front. You still don’t have the Joan Didion issue? I can get it in the mail for you today.

  9. Shanna

    I love this whole fucking thing so much. Fly, little chicken! (fyi, my friends and I say that to each other when we’re about to do something exciting and scary. “Little chicken” is definitely a term of endearment around these parts.)

    1. Teri

      Are you kidding? I’m thrilled to be the little chicken. Thanks, Shanna. And thanks for being so honest in your MARK blog posts.

  10. macdougalstreetbaby

    Hotdiggity!!! You go, girl! I just jumped out of my seat, twirled around while snapping my feet and hands together and blew you kisses in the air. Did you feel them????

  11. Angela LaForest

    How wonderful for you! Your talent is gonna take you places girl!!
    ps…I just watched Love Story yesterday, so the snow angels made me laugh!

    1. Teri

      Thanks, Angie — I don’t know about the talent-part, but the work part sure is a hoot. How handsome was Ryan in Love Story? And Ali M, so darn cute and sassy.

      1. Angela LaForest

        You have a gift Teri…now share it with the world girl!
        And yes, Ryan is a doll and Ali has a natural beauty to
        die for! ha
        Congrats and have a preppy!!! Ha

  12. lauramaylene

    Teri!!! Congratulations! I’m so thrilled for you. And this news certainly is NOT weird. I’m not surprised at all.

    Also, I’d say this beats out even finally getting your missing Joan Didion P&W copy with Joan Didion on the cover. 🙂 Congrats, and be sure to tell us all about it!

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