I recently returned to my Alma Mater, the University of Tampa, to speak to a fiction writing class about my writing and publishing experience with, The WILCO Project. Other than attending a few basketball games after graduation, I cannot recall actually returning to the school since graduating in 1986. As I drove through the campus, looking for the parking garage, I could not believe how the campus had grown! Shiny new buildings had sprouted up all over and the sidewalks teamed with students.
As I made my way into the lobby of Plant Hall, the main building on campus that features the trademark UT silver minarets, I felt like an undergrad again, my backpack slung over my shoulder, hustling to class. At first glance, things appeared to be almost the same as 25 years before with all the colorful banners hanging in the lobby and the familiar racks filled with copies of the student newspaper, The Minaret. Having been the news editor for that publication, I was happy to see the paper still in production. The only differences that I noticed from my days of roaming Plant Hall were the abundance of students hanging out using laptops and talking on cell phones, devices not prevalent back in my stone age days.
Talking with the next generation fiction writers was an absolute blast for me. Of course, I droned on and on about my writing, the book, and my opinions on the publishing industry–I hope the students found at least some of it interesting and useful. My thanks to Kathleen Ochshorn and Andy Solomon for inviting me and to the students for listening, it was an honor and a privilege going back to school!