Will you read my manuscript?
Ben is extraordinarily busy teaching, chasing writing deadlines, and trying to be a good husband and father. Under no circumstances will he read a manuscript sent to him. If you would like his critical advice, he would be happy to workshop your writing at one of the many conferences he teaches at every year. See his readings/appearances page for details.
Will you recommend me to your agent?
Ben has recommended some of his closest friends, without success. His endorsement will not help.
What advice do you have for somebody trying to break into the writing business?
Read your brains out, write your brains out. This is a long, painful apprenticeship and nothing will come easily. Talent will only take you so far. Success comes from persistence and ass-in-chair time.
What do you think about the MFA in creative writing?
You don’t need one to become a writer. But a graduate program can provide you with community and time, which in many cases accelerates the growth of a writer so that you might figure out in three years what you would have on your own in seven.
How did you break into magazine writing?
I have no journalistic experience. I began publishing fiction with the slicks and from there they asked me to write nonfiction for them. One magazine gig has led to another.