A while ago … well, quite a while ago … I struggled through a creative writing course in college. I had a weekly session with my professor in which I presented my work.

Not only was he a fine writer and a patient teacher, he looked the way I thought a creative writing teacher ought to look: pipe, tweed jacket, untamed eyebrows that made him always appear surprised. And his office was the perfect setting: small, bookl-lined and tucked away in a corner of the library.

He would read my new work, pause, puff several times on his pipe, then read a passage. “What did you mean by that?” he’d ask. I would give an explanation. He would pause again, puff, and the eyebrows would raise. “Why didn’t you write it that way?”

I’ve been trying to write it that way … clearly, few words rather than many, piquantly … ever since.

My day job took me away from my English major to grad school, then finance, technology and biotech. I learned valuable tools in grad school, but it was that English major and writing that glued it all together. So when I could devote full time to writing, I began that most frustrating and rewarding business. I have discovered to my surprise how difficult it is to write well but how exciting to try.

It has, indeed, been a pilgrimage, one I’m still on.