I heart Margaret Atwood

A couple of months ago I joined hundreds of New Yorkers in celebration of Margaret Atwood’s birthday. I sat in the audience, by myself, as Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman engaged in witty conversation, running the gamut from books to politics to film to America. Something Ms. Atwood said resounded so poignantly, it moved me. Mr. Gaiman told her that he counted her as one of the few role models he could look up to, for she was a poet, a screenwriter, an inventor, and an author of speculative fiction as well as historical fiction. He proclaimed this an anomaly, since most writers stick to one genre or one medium, and he found himself to be more like her, unwilling to be boxed in to just one category. Ms. Atwood replied that she was one of the lucky ones, because “back when she went to college”, there was no one who sat you down and made you decide between fiction or poetry; they just let you write. This spoke to me, since I have always been able to move from prose to poetry to screenwriting with fluidity, yet have also faced barriers because of this unorthodox approach. It was even more time appropriate because just one week prior to this event, I was informed that even though I am a Creative Writing major at Brooklyn College, I actually needed to choose an emphasis between fiction, poetry, or plays. This was news to me, and frustrating news, indeed. I am primarily a fiction writer, but I really want to take a poetry class in Spring, and yet this is not recommended unless I want to choose poetry as my emphasis.
And so I sat alone in the audience, for once thankful that no-one was able to accompany me that night because I might have been more self conscious over my emotion. Margaret Atwood is my hero, and she has given me the encouragement I need to refuse a stifling label.