Students in Rob Jacklosky’s Writers in the 21st Century class were excited to meet a literary celebrity on Thursday.
“Can we ask her to take a picture with us on our phones?” one student said before the class began.
“You want her to take a selfie?” Mr. Jacklosky joked.
But Myla Goldberg — whose 2000 bestseller Bee Season became a film starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche — was quick to dispel any students’ ideas that the writer’s life is one of grandeur. Ms. Goldberg, who has published three novels, recounted days filled with odd jobs and Ramen noodles in her early years of writing.
“When you see movies about writers, you always see them sitting there looking very inspired,” Ms. Goldberg said. “That’s a lie.”
Ms. Goldberg is the first of three novelists to visit the College of Mount St. Vincent (CMSV) for its “Writers at the Mount” series. Over the course of three weeks, the authors will conduct craft classes with students and then hold public readings from their recent works. This week, Karen Shepard will speak about her novel The Celestials, and on April 8, Darrin Strauss will discuss Chang and Eng and Half a Life.
In Mr. Jacklosky’s class, Ms. Goldberg spoke about her struggle to balance earning a living with pursuing a fulfilling writing career. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1993, she lived in Prague for a year, working on a novel about an eastern European circus at the dawn of World War II.
After Prague, she transplanted to Brooklyn, where she currently resides with her husband and two daughters. She managed to fit in time for writing while working as a freelance reader, reviewing book reports to decide whether or not the material was TV-movie worthy. Ms. Goldberg also spent time as a production assistant on the set of a Stephen King horror movie and as an employee at a literary agency.
The author said her first novel was never published and that she still has hundreds of rejection letters she accrued in the process of sending out manuscripts and having them returned.