“After I got a Master’s at Cornell, I went to Texas Southern University to teach English for three years, and then I went back to Howard to teach. And I was young – in my 20s. And I joined a group of faculty and writers who met once a month to read to each other and critique each other. Some of them were professional writers, and some were not. And so I brought to these meetings little things I had written for classes as an undergraduate – some fiction, some not. And they had really, really good lunches, really good food during these meetings. But they wouldn’t let you continue to come if you were just reading old stuff. So I had to think up something new if I was going to continue to have this really good food and really good company. So I started writing. And I remember very clearly I was writing with a pencil. I was sitting on a couch, writing with a pencil, trying to think up something. It was just, you know, maybe five or six pages at first. And they were very encouraging. That’s really how I got started.”

-from an interview with Terry Gross