The apartment was attached to the art museum, downtown. When I went back years later I thought I was on the wrong side of the street because the art museum looked different and the apartment was gone. The day I moved in a guy stopped me on the street and asked, “are you an artist?” It sounded like a bad come-on. I wound up freelancing for him, writing articles in a monthly called Entertainment! The first time I got published I was so proud I had to show this guy who was visiting from New York. He was an actor and I thought that meant his opinion mattered more, a real artist. Part of my job at the theater was picking up out-of-town actors at the bus station and taking them to their hotels, making them feel pampered. Running out for small things or giving them advice on where to go. It seemed like a strange part of my job but I liked the idea of having actors in my car and getting to know them a bit. The first actor had a white mustache and beard and sat alone in the restaurant where I waited tables. I showed him the article and asked what he thought of it. He took a few beats to finish chewing and then put the paper down and said, do you really want to know? That was the first time I realized that just because you put something in print doesn’t make it any better than it was from the start. I was writing the way I imagined the voice should sound and that was not an interesting sound. Same for all the corporate memos I’d write in the years to follow. People want to hear a real voice, your voice. Readers can sniff out fakes like sniffer dogs at the airport. Sounding authentic (and still worth listening to) is the first challenge. And just because you learned it once doesn’t mean it will stay with you.