Bestselling author JODI PICOULT ’87 answered questions from alumni this month. Here’s an excerpt.
Can you talk about how your Princeton thesis adviser shaped your own writing and career trajectory? — Submitted by Carter Greenbaum ’12
On the first day of my workshop [with former Princeton professor Mary Morris], when Mary was discussing my short story with the class, you can imagine how shocked I was when she gave me a glue stick, scissors, and construction paper and told me to sit on the floor in the center of the student chairs, and to just do whatever was suggested.
Then she asked the class: “Where does Jodi’s story REALLY start?” Some poor soul suggested page three. “Yes!” Mary said, and she ripped off pages one and two and tossed them aside. For the rest of the time, I cut and pasted and seethed. I left in tears, and gathered all my courage to go to Mary’s office hours the next day. I asked, “Why did you do that?” She said, “Because you needed it ... and because you can take it.” Well, I was mad. I was so mad I edited that story and edited it and edited it until Mary suggested I send it somewhere. ... I did, and three months later, an editor [from Seventeen] called me. It was my first published piece.