Tuesday, September 24, 2019

You Should Try It!


So I attended this fun event at Changing Hands, your favorite bookstore and mine. Co-presented by my very own Phoenix College and the Piper Center at ASU, these quick and easy writing pop-up parties might be your, um, "jam." (I just heard my kid refer to something as "her jam.") I attended Piper Daniels' pop-up: "At the Intersection of Personal and Cultural Memor" (here's the next one).

Piper Daniels was fun. I'm just sharing her prompt here. We read aloud (loved that!) Brainard's I Remember, and wrote our own "I Remember" verses or lyrics or lines.

This is worth your writerly time. Here are mine. Feel free to put yours in the comments!

I remember stealing a rock from the next door neighbor's backyard rock collection, and my mom happened to be looking out the kitchen window at that very moment--so I got in big trouble.

I remember watching The Gin Blossoms on TV at midnight on Y2K. I was in my pajamas. 

I remember pretending I was drunk at a house party in college, but I wasn't really, and this kid who looked like Bono in the eighties leaned in to flirt or kiss, and I leaned in too, but really I was thinking, "This is so dumb."

I remember watching my toddler, dehydrated, six or seven or eight months, in the ER; she was getting poked over and over with a tiny IV needle, but they couldn't find the vein--and they kept poking and I felt like shit but I didn't tell them to stop. I let them poke and poke, while she wailed and wailed. 

What do you remember?

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Friday, September 6, 2019

The Business of Being A Writer: a review?



I never read these type of books. This time, with that old familiar feeling surrounding my recent book--which pretty much TOOK EVERY SINGLE IMPORTANT PART OF ME AND MY INCONSEQUENTIAL LIFE TO WRITE, NEARLY KILLING ME IN THE PROCESS--flatlining in terms of both sales and expectations, I reticently turned to an expert: Jane Friedman.

Even I've heard of her!

She's this writing/publishing guru with columns in great journals and lectures on getting a life and organizations she's founded and sites for writer-types to visit and books that she's written and savvy to demonstrate . . . you get the picture.

True, I only just became aware of this book: The Business of Being A Writer. It's too bad for me that I didn't read this before the publication of my new-ish novel. Her book came out in March 2018, and And So We Die, Having First Slept came out in November 2018. I admit that a very big part of me wonders if I might have avoided my own brutal publishing backstory (found here). What would I have done differently?

Actually, this book compelled me to reach back even further. Farther? Further? Oh no. No wonder. How might I have done this writing life differently?

You should read it. I listened on audio, and I might "invest" (see how I'm using these words now?) in a hard copy to own and mark up. I think it was valuable in multiple ways, though--I guess I'll admit it--I sorta feel like my career is what it is, and that's all there is to it. I'm 49. I have three books. I've published traditionally and that other way. I go to AWP. I even lived in New York once!

I did start an author newsletter using mail chimp, based on her words. Also, I'm trying to hold back on my Facebook blasts promoting myself ad nauseum--which tend to result in absolutely no sales whatsoever and a severe case of self-loathing. That said, we recently got a kitten named Beesly (named after Pam Beesly in "The Office") and I just want to share a million photos of her all over social media.

I won't go over everything here. Just some stuff. In the beginning, she spends a lot of time talking about how writers resist business logistics, how often enough they coddle that image of the solitary rogue-of-an-artist, how they proudly declare that they want nothing to do with the mechanics of earning a living. I read it, and all I could say was, Oy.

She also speaks about how MFA programs often focus solely on the craft of literary fiction--not really looking at the business end. Again: Oy. (I loved my MFA program, and I loved focusing on craft. But. But. But.)

She also says that self-publishing may be problematic for literary fiction writers. Still: Oy.

And then there's the adjunct pay thing and the contracts that involve rights and how many words you get to quote without seeking permission. The epigraph to And So We Die, Having First Slept is the entirety of a Sappho poem. I asked no one for permission.

For my next book, I'll be talking to Bono.

Friedman's book is a crash course on the business. Good book!





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So many options: And So We Die, Having First Slept.

What a trip it's been.