It was 1997, and I was 24 years old, working in book publishing and thinking (maybe?) about being a writer. My friend David Grae was one; he also happened to be the co-founder of Gotham Writers Workshop. Because I was broke (book publishing, remember?), he kindly offered for me to take a class for free.
The class was Intro to Fiction. It was held downtown at Village Community School and taught by Adam Sexton, who was a terrific instructor. I spent the term working on a story called “The Trouble with Marvin” about a young woman navigating the rocky relationship between her elderly cat, Marvin, and her new boyfriend. It may or may not have been based on my cat Pepper who was, at the time, not a fan of my new boyfriend (the feeling was mutual). I remember being proud of the story and how it turned out, but like most 24-year-olds, I was pretty casual about the whole thing. After I finished the story, I set it aside and never thought about it again.
I took another Gotham class in 2009, and things were different now. No more trips to the West Village for me, I took this second class online because I was living outside the city and caring for my three young kids (I paid this time). That class was a lifeline, a weekly reminder that I was more than just a mom and that there was a world beyond the four walls of my home. I worked diligently that term on a story I never finished, which was frustrating but was also, I know now, a more accurate reflection of what the writing life is: stops and starts, dead ends and lots of words left on the cutting room floor.
My debut novel My Last Innocent Year came out in February, more than twenty-five years after I took that first Gotham class (so if you’re reading this and thinking “It’s too late,” I’m here to tell you it’s not). The path has been long and circuitous, but as I reflect on the journey from there to here, I’m so grateful for the Gotham courses I took all those years ago. They taught me about craft and structure, dialogue and voice and the discipline it takes to write. But most of all they showed me the joy of storytelling and the importance of community.
Thank you, Gotham.
You can learn more about Daisy and her work at www.daisyflorin.com.