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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Aimee Bender, Revelle '91

Wordless Inspiration. Award-winning author Aimee Bender, Revelle '91, first thought of herself as a writer at age 7. But by the time she was a teenager, she was no longer comfortable with the idea.

"It took me a while to feel entitled to take writing seriously," says Bender, whose latest novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Doubleday, 2010), is a national best seller. "After my first book came out, I thought 'Well, it's now factual.' That felt so enormous and surprising to me. It's not an easy thing to proclaim to be a writer."

Bender is known for surrealist stories that demonstrate her playful writing style and flair for language. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines ranging from GQ to The Paris Review and her first book, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Anchor, 1998), was named a New York Times Notable Book.

"I write in a very wandering way … it's more of an unconscious process," she says. "Through all of the drudgery, there are moments where surprise happens. It's thrilling, exhilarating."

Bender devotes two hours every day to writing. Her rule is to just sit there and write—wisdom she also imparts to her creative writing students as an associate professor of English at USC.

"I used to dread writing. But now it's built into the day. A lot of it is about waiting," says Bender. "Sometimes the things that inspire you the most are wordless."