Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

Letter to a Young Editor

Feb 21, 2014

by Steven Schwartz, Fiction Editor, Colorado Review

I had just started as an assistant professor in 1984 at Colorado State University and was editing an issue of Colorado Review (called Colorado State Review back then). I wrote to Raymond Carver because I knew him a little from when I’d been a graduate student in the MFA Program at the University of Arizona. He was living in Tucson then with Tess Gallagher, a faculty member in the program.

Every time I had the chance to speak to Ray he was unfailingly kind, as this letter attests.  I never had the sense, despite his status—and my non status—that he was a general talking to a private. I remember one extended conversation we had about the difficulty of his trying to write a novel, as if I knew about such matters, but he took me seriously, listening carefully to what I had to say, his interest in my thoughts, not how much success I had. His drinking, before he stopped, caused those who loved him pain, but despite whatever demons he wrestled with, he possessed an inherent goodness and instinct as to how to gentle a nervous young writer in his presence. That made him a sweetheart to me and made me want to emulate that kindness should I ever be in a position to help younger writers.

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