I’m back on campus at Harvard, delivering a speech tonight to the Summer Writing Program students. It’s a bit of an odd experience visiting Cambridge—the familiar brick buildings, the pizza joint on the corner, the particular brand of students (I passed a girl today in the Square wearing a T-shirt that read: GOT DATA?).
But what feels the most surreal is being back here in an official capacity, as a guest of the writing program. It’s something I thought about when I was an undergrad here. I started THE TOWER the summer after my sophomore year (two chapters) and wrote the bulk of the first draft the summers before and after my senior year. And I always wondered what it would be like if I got published to come back and give a talk. The department had a lunch for me this afternoon in the same building where I once sweated through an oral defense of my thesis. And there—the carpeted stairs where I posed for a photo after handing in my thesis senior year, shortly before my roommate and I wandered to the tobacconist and bought huge cigars which we smoked on the steps of Widener and wondered how the four years had gone by so goddamned fast.
I’m speaking tonight to students—one of my favorite things to do—and I hope a few of them will be encouraged to keep writing, even as the (in hindsight, still moderate) demands of life after college press in on them.