Magazine article Communication World

Personality

Magazine article Communication World

Personality

Article excerpt

DESCRIBE AN ETHICAL DILEMMA THAT YOU FACED. HOW DID YOU RESOLVE IT?

A colleague's wife offered to seduce me. I told her to try again when she was sober. I don't think she did, though maybe I just was not sensitive enough to notice.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'VE FACED IN YOUR CAREER?

Trying to write and teach and raise a daughter all at once. Recently I was on a writers' panel in Campbell River, BC, Canada, where two women novelists were complaining about how hard it was to write books and tend a baby at the same time. They were assuming, in the way that makes you impatient, that as a man I never had that problem, or even understood it. But I was the main caregiver for my daughter while writing and holding down a full-time teaching job.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING PROFESSIONAL MOMENT?

The day I got an honorary degree from the University of British Columbia. I really do like getting honoured, and I will be getting another honorary degree in a couple of months, plus the Order of Canada, but I still get all flustered, and I probably blush, and I can't wait for the ceremony to be over. I wore my Three Stooges tie when I got my first honorary degree. I think I will haul it out again.

WHAT GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN PROFESSIONALLY?

The arrogance of slower minds. Connected with that is some kind of opinion that the degree of talent is not all that important. I remember students who thought that they should have higher grades because they put in a lot of time on their school work. I hear third-rate writers complain about how hard it is to make a living as a writer. All my career I witnessed university professors assuming that they knew more about literature than writers.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST RISK YOU'VE EVER TAKEN?

I drove my father's car at 110 mph on Highway 97. I looked at it the next day, where it was parked in the shade of the elm trees across the street, and I saw that one of the front tires was flat. …

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