Everything's Coming up Jeffrey

I don't know what you're doing on Friday at 3pm, but I'm going to be listening to 88.7 KSPC in Claremont, California.

They've made the wise choice of featuring the poetry of my student and friend, Jeffrey Graessley.

Jeff's one of a long string of successful students. When he came to Mt. San Antonio College (we all call it Mt. SAC) a few years ago, he had a lot of raw talent, but he knew that he had to do some work. So he removed a string of piercings from his mouth and got down to work.

It's been great to see him succeed, to see him develop talent and ability over the years.

It's been great to watch him publish all his work as well. He's had poetry in a number of magazines, and he's working on a novel that I think it going to go. It's the first steam-punk occult western I've seen since Brisco County Jr.

He's a great writer and a young writer, and he's done the one thing to contribute to his own success that all of my students who have had great success have done.

I'll tell you his secret at the end. For now, I'm going to brag about my students.

There are a number of students I can't write about since their publisher have asked that they keep their novels on the QT for the time being, so I'm not going to talk about them. Others who have been successful, I'm going to not write about. Why? Because so many of the students have published work, found writing, changed their lives, that there's not enough room.

But here is a list of a few of the most recent:

Marta Chausee whose book is coming out in the next month or so from Oak Tree Press.
She took my novel writing class two years ago and excelled. She was focused took and gave criticism and was a leader in her groups. All great qualities, but not the key to her success.

Michaelsun Knapp has published all over the place and is getting paid for his fiction and poetry. In a year or so, he'll be moving on to an MFA, and I can't imagine the number of books in his future. He's doing extraordinary ekphrastic poems right now. Hard to wrap your head around how good these are.

Michael Torres just published his first chapbook through Finishing Line Press, and his poetry has been all over the place. He won a PEN award and his work is good.

Scott Creley, Elder Zamora, David Falkinberg . . . there have been too many to name who have done well.

What's the common denominator?

It's tempting to say I am, but it's not that.

On the other hand, I did give them the same advice that they all followed, so maybe I can steal their glory.

What they all did, what all my very successful students have done is to form strong and sustaining communities to help them with their writing. This more than anything I have seen or done has been the hallmark of success.

Of course it spurs on all the other things that makes people successful.

People in writing communities write regularly because the community demands it.

People in writing communities revise carefully because they are embarrassed not to.

People in writing communities read more and better because of recommendations.

People in writing communities stay positive and focused.

People in writing communities aren't unrealistic.

People in writing communities send their work out when it's ready.

The advice that I gave to them all was to get into a good group and get as much out of it as you can. They've all done that and have succeeded beyond what I expected and quickly. All of these highly successful writers have been my student in the last two years.

So, what are the other hallmarks of success? Let us know. We're all on our way, but we all have a ways to go.