Library Things

S. and I went to a thing at the library with Madison Smartt Bell and James Squire. S. has a good write-up on it. I was glad they talked almost exclusively about craft, only answering one marketing question when it was apparent that the audience had not been told about the no marketing questions rule.

And I appreciated Bell’s willingness to talk a little about the woo of writing and about how he’s used hypnosis and other mind-altering techniques. It was good to be reminded that it’s a strange and difficult thing for everyone.

But then, yeah, what S. said.  I both really enjoyed it and felt this kind of uncomfortableness. I mean, no matter what, aspiring writers go to hear aspired writers for that old Tarot-y reason–we want to believe that where you are, we, too, can be.

But I am never going to be old family friends with Andrew Lytle. For lots of reasons. Starting with that he’s dead.

So, it was really interesting, but I couldn’t quite make the leap. I couldn’t quite believe that, if those guys were sitting there, I could, too.

3 thoughts on “Library Things

  1. I really enjoyed the panel, and Bell is always very interesting on the subject of creative process. Re S.’s post, I think Bell is successful because he is awesomely talented, but he would be the first to admit that growing up around people like Andrew Lytle helped him take himself seriously as a writer. For every writer like Bell, though, there’s one like Dorothy Allison, who grew up with zero advantages (to put it mildly), and with the added burdens of being a woman and a lesbian. Check out AN ANGLE OF VISION, a great collection of essays all written by women who grew up poor or working class and turned themselves into successful writers.

  2. Maria, I really enjoyed it, too, and I’m looking forward to future ones. I also would like to have a chance in the future to just hear Bell talk about his creative process, because I felt like there was some really interesting meat there that we didn’t have a chance to get at because of the format, even though I found the format interesting.

  3. S. [space inserted because otherwise it looks totally different…] hit on the head what it is that is so frustrating to me about these things.

    I mean, I get jazzed with the whole “let’s all sit around and talk about our shared delusion and how it manifests itself” nature of writing panels and workshops.

    I had to stop going to them, though, because EVERY TIME the chosen speaker was invariably published. And they were ALWAYS at least one–and usually several–of these:

    Ivy League Educated
    Second- or Third- generation publishing business
    FOAF in the Manhattan Publishing Corridor
    Male
    Jewish
    Raised in the East
    Alcoholic

    It struck me that no matter how good my writing is, I will always ALWAYS be a cultural outsider with different folkways. I mean, it goes beyond just the whole “Harvard Handshake” thing, which is bad enough. There’s that other level of “we have these things in common and can approach one another with a presumption of mutual comfort” that I have with fat women who love books, theatre geeks and the like.

    To get my stuff published in the mainstream often feels akin to opening a noodle house in Xiamen.

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