Jane Cutler

Jane Cutler Copyright Peter Ellenby

When we talk about what writers are like, we’re polite. We don’t say, “They’re liars.” We say, “They tend to exaggerate.” We don't say, “They’re snoops.” We say, “They’re interested in everyone.” And we don't say, “They're fools.” We say, “They have such vivid imaginations, sometimes they just can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t.”
I grew up in the Midwest at a time when people spoke more plainly. And I knew from an early age exactly who I was. I was a liar, a snoop, and a fool; apparently, I was intended to be a writer.
I accepted my fate and launched my career with a blatantly criminal act: in grade four, I composed rhyming quatrains for almost everyone in my class to pass off as his or her own on their handmade Mother’s Day cards.
At the time, in the fever of composition and under the pressure of my first deadline, I didn’t stop to think about the immorality of passing off my work as theirs. And, as it turned out, since our teacher encouraged cooperation and failed to see the true scope of the deception being practiced, the project came off without a hitch.
In junior high, I wrote a long, melodramatic story about the evils of racial prejudice. The story won second prize in a statewide contest, and my name appeared in the newspaper. There was no turning back.
When I got to high school, I wrote a piece for Scribblers’, the


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