By BIANCA REYES
The extraordinarily talented author, Rivka Galchen, of Atmospheric Disturbances visited Manhattanville College’s Reid Castle on Monday, February 23rd. She was interviewed by Manhattanville’s own, David Burr Gerrard, a Creative Writing Professor. The bold female writer was awarded the William Saroyan Prize and the Ronna Jaffe Prize for Women Writers. Galchen was named one of the top twenty American writers, under the age of forty years old, by The New Yorker.
During the interview, Rivka Galchen admitted to Professor Gerrard that she had always wanted to be a writer, in which her parents were not too thrilled about; she said “The label of being a writer faces a lot of rejection, especially as a female writer.” This led to her feeling “safer within an institution” as a female writer, as well as grow as an author. After being asked if non-fiction helps to write fiction, she replied: “I hope so. I think that what ever you do grows on you.” Galchen hesitantly advised young writers to take the time to mature, as a writer, after being asked if she recommended working in different careers before earning an MFA in Creative Writing. Most can agree that it takes time for a writer to become ready to publish his or her first novel, as both Rivka Galchen and Professor David Gerrard were both in their early thirties, when they published their first novels. Galchen and Gerrard discussed the editing process and how much work is put in to publish an author’s work. “There’s a large spectrum of writers, who view edits as either a nuisance or a savior. Writers are sort of like children, while editors play the role of a parent.”
Professor David Gerrard was satisfied with the interview and the broad audience of students and other professors. “I thought it went extremely well–not all writers are able to explain what they do, but Rivka is as brilliant and entertaining a speaker as she is a writer. I also was impressed with the level of insight reflected in the questions that students asked.”
When the discussion was open to the floor, a student asked Rivka Galchen about editors and the amount of recognition they receive. “As an editor, it may be secretly rewarding, but I don’t think editors actually want any credit for publishing something.”