I was in college. I wrote a story called Keeping House. It was about a woman who refused to get out of bed, and so her house was slowly overtaken by dust, until she was eventually suffocated. The slowest of all slow deaths. I submitted it to the college literary magazines where it was roundly rejected. That year, one college undergraduate published a story in The New Yorker, and we ran into Jodie Foster, a classmate, at every turn. We knew how to recognize talent-- and the lack of it, of course.
He said that he was writing a PBS special about the James family, and he hinted around that he had all kinds of connections and that if we were "good enough" we might be able to get a foot in the door. I suspected that he was frankly hoping that our work would be good enough to steal.
He was bombastic and full of himself. The boys in the class were pumped up and full of hot air. I was painfully shy and sat silent most of the time but there was something about this man that seemed painfully familiar to me-- even then, I had an awareness that the writer's road was not an easy one, and that he must have once had more glorious dreams than to be pacing that basement classroom trapped with the six of us.