As for what's the most challenging aspect of teaching, it's convincing younger writers of the importance of reading widely and passionately.
In my teaching, I try to expose my students to the widest range of aesthetic possibilities, so I'll offer them stories from Anton Chekhov to Denis Johnson, from Flannery O'Connor to A.M. Homes, and perhaps investigating all that strange variation of beauty has rubbed off on me. Or perhaps that's why I enjoy teaching literature.
I often think that the prime directive for me as a teacher of writing is akin to that for a physician, which is this: do no harm.
I'm interested in people who find themselves in places, either of their choosing or not, and who are forced to decide how best to live there. That feeling of both citizenship and exile, of always being an expatriate - with all the attendant problems and complications and delight.
I don't believe complete assimilation is possible, at least not for anyone who has an active, open mind. Every step, every entry into the flows of existence can be seen as a beginning, a commencement of a brand new way of seeing oneself in the world. This is the case for everyone.