“I grew up in and around Manhattan—a wonderful island for gathering material and starting to write. In New York, there are so many places to study writing; I received my education from Columbia University, Poets and Writers, New Dramatists, as well as countless writing workshops.
“By working in book publishing—as a manuscript reader, editor, and ‘book doctor’—I learned more about the trade. The problem was, my sympathies were with the invisible senders of manuscripts. Writing rejection letters to would-be authors felt almost impossible. The prospect of receiving those letters was more comfortable, if only barely; I quit and took up writing.
“For me, writing for a living has meant writing for money and for love. During the past twenty years, I’ve found the two curiously compatible and even intertwined. With luck, it’s possible to be a gum-snapping reporter at one turn and a literary novelist the next—as long as these distinct experiences are measured out in turns and not in minutes. Time is the great commodity for writers; every successful author is a time-wrangler of one kind or another.
“Time seems to move more slowly on some continents than others; I moved to Europe hoping for a temporal reprieve. Surely I’d be more compatible with the rhythm of the Netherlands….
“Like New York, Amsterdam is a bookish place. When I arrived in the late ’90s, the only missing element (predictably) was a steady place to explore writing—in English. That’s why I started The Amsterdam Writing Workshops: to give myself and others a professional place to learn more about writing, and so to make Amsterdam an inch more like the New York that existed when I came of age.”