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Draft your acknowledgements page

July 7, 2011

I want to acknowledge my parents, who, despite making for me a happy childhood, also instilled in me a deep and complicated relationship to work, money, responsibility, self-esteem, art, and purpose which allowed me to do the things I have done in the world. I want to acknowledge my former boss who told me, “Never let work get in the way of your real life,” and my current boss, who is above-and-beyond supportive in every way, including by buying me lots of books. I want to thank all of my instructors over the years, especially my 11th-grade English teacher who made us compose in-class essays every day, thereby helping us learn how to write rough drafts; my favorite professor in college who let me turn in comics about classic literature instead of essays and who taught me a new meaning of the phrase “That’s smart”; and those instructors in grad school who kept pushing me to new places (they always seemed to be the teachers of nonfiction). Thank you to B.B. for publishing my first book review though it was too long and not really a review, and for taking my advice and publishing my poetry too. Thank you to those awards, publications, and reading series which pay. Thank you to all my classmates and friends and fellow writers who’ve workshopped and talked shop and hosted writing days and started book clubs and read drafts and organized readings and reposted links, especially those who’ve done what I want to do and make me believe I can too. Thank you to those who have at times helped to change my mind. And to my most supportive A.H. who calls me her “artist in residence” and who has made me realize why authors so gratefully acknowledge their husbands and wives and partners and lovers in the backs of their books: because not only do these people have to put up with artful schedules, and read drafts over and over again, and talk about those drafts a lot and a lot, but they have to help work out all those ideas and issues and grudges and past relationships and plot problems that may or may not make it onto the page in the first place.

Note: Why not? Reading acknowledgements is one of my guilty pleasures, for the same and more reasons as those outlined here. I always read the acknowledgements page both first and last and sometimes when I’m in the middle of a novel as well.

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