A few years ago I signed up to take a one-day class taught by Mary Gordon. I sent her my 20-pages, as required, and marked my calendar, but somehow still managed to screw up my schedule and miss the class. Usually, I am organized and vigilant; usually I know what I’m doing. But the date somehow came and went without me, as did the workshop. That night, I went to hear Gordon read and sat in the cool back rows of a church, slowly filling up with her friends and fans--until at last she appeared, a small cheerful woman of indeterminate age. After her spunky reading, I got the chance to confess abashedly that I was the day's missing student. She looked up from the book she was signing with sparkly eyes and quietly repeated my name twice. My eyes filled up with tears. She said some incredibly wonderful things about the opening of my novel in a very quiet voice. She scribbled down my email address for her and hers for me, and promised she'd send her notes on my writing. But then she never wrote. And she didn't respond to my emails.
I really messed up a great opportunity, though ontologically speaking, I guess Mary Gordon is just the tip of the iceberg.