Take risks to succeed, author says

Any passion, including writing, requires a risk, said an author Thursday at the Creative Writing Awards Ceremony.After the audience had heard enough to understand the plot of her new book, “Confessions of a Bigamist,” Kate Lehrer, a TCU alumna, told students that each time she writes a new book she is “taking a gamble.”

She said that whenever time is invested in something, whether it be a book, a relationship or a job, there is a chance that investment could be lost.

Lehrer told students they have to decide if they are “going to be that swan diving off the high dive,” or if they “are going to crawl down looking like an idiot.”

She said the main character in her book, a woman who is married to both an uptight lawyer in New York and a calm man who runs a bird sanctuary in Texas, represents something in everyone.

“In a sense we’re all bigamists,” she said. “Not necessarily with someone else, but we all have different ways we like to live … we all have different faces.”

Lehrer, author of four books, grew up in McKinney and said she definitely uses Texas as an influence in her writing.

She graduated from TCU in 1959 with a degree in English and a minor in philosophy, both of which she said served her well.

Currently, Lehrer lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Jim Lehrer, a novelist and anchor for PBS.

The two went on their first date down the street from TCU at a restaurant on Bluebonnet Circle. They have three grown daughters and six grandchildren.

Lehrer said that while she loves her life in Washington D.C., “Texas calms me. I can lose touch with that part of myself when I’m not back here.”

Dan Williams, department chairman and professor of English, said the Faculty Senate voted unanimously Thursday to present Lehrer with an honorary degree, though the decision must also be voted on in other venues before it can be official.

“It won’t be her first honorary degree,” he said with a laugh, “but it will be the best.”

As Lehrer took her seat, the focus shifted and students sat up in their seats awaiting to receive their awards.

Charlotte Hogg, an assistant professor of English, said Thursday’s ceremony honored writers.

“This is a time when the gambling paid off,” she said smiling as she pointed out her reference to Lehrer’s message.

Students received prize money at the ceremony from private donors for works they submitted under categories such as fiction, research, non-fiction prose, Christian literature and literary criticism.

Helen Atkins, of the Women’s Wednesday Club, a division of the Women’s Club of Fort Worth, said the organization has enjoyed recognizing students for their hard work.

“It’s fun to see these young people advance,” she said.

The Women’s Wednesday Club, which recognized four students, has been supporting the awards since 1935, Hogg said.

Rebecca Riddel, a sophomore religion major, received a non-fiction award for her piece, “You’ll Find the Library Under Fiction,” a story about the strange things you can find in libraries.

Riddel said she thought Lehrer was an interesting speaker.