Friday, June 01, 2007

Making A Literary Life Friday: Waxing Philosophic

This week merged the practical and the philosophical, preparing for summer's distractions and rationalizing them away in favor of writing. There are many wonderful reasons to stay focused as Mother Nature (sister of the Muse?) turns up the heat.

Grub Street is posting photos from the Muse and the Marketplace conference soon, and announcing new seasonal offerings. Parties are scheduled to support debuts (Hank Phillippi Ryan, writers from the Debs, Patry Francis, and the list goes on -- anything from those of you beyond our New England borders?).

Amy and Lynne had the pleasure of hearing Hank Phillippi Ryan speak about her experiences with editing her soon-to-be released novel, Prime Time. She nipped, tucked, tweaked and polished--and she showed other writers how to do the same.

For those who wonder if all these new reads and events are distractions, we say a good book and banter serve to inspire!

The nourishment for my creative side is my job. Spend a day with me and I'm sure you'd agree that employment in an elementary school is the most valuable class in character; teachers and parents are never dull. But it's the day to day emotion of dealing with people's lives, frustrations, longings, worries that builds my pent up craving to write: watching a parent come to terms with a child's diagnosis of autism, hearing that a wonderful third grade teacher lost her battle with cancer two days ago. What came first? The writing or the need to write?

Speaking of Camus, do you writers out there ever wonder if the world you've created on the page is somehow more real than one you inhabit? If your characters live more fully than you? For me, I think it's safe to say even the corpses in my novel don't have quite the stunted social life I've had lately. Cooped in my office, intent on revisions, I'm losing track of the world around me, too focused on the one within. I think it's time for a little fresh air.

Revisions proceed at their own pace, plus I got Margot Livesey's The Missing World out of the library. My daughter has a new homework sheet to mark off two assignments each week for math and literacy. One is simply to "take a book out of the library." Her eyes lit up as she decided she had taken out enough books the last visit to check off her homework for the rest of the year.

I spent hours and days revising my novel. I took a well-deserved day off to shop for my daughter's graduation gift. The bag contained a few good summer reads for her and I to share. On my list--The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and The Keep by Jennifer Egan.

Literary Events:
Tuesday, June 5 Buttonwood Books Coffee with the Authors featuring Claire Cook, David Gessner, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Contact Buttonwood for tickets and reservations.

If Boston traffic makes you dizzy, come to Buttonwood Books on Thursday, June 7 at 7:00 pm to hear Books and Bloggers at Buttonwood Books featuring Patry Francis, Tish Cohen, and Jennifer McMahon.

If traffic isn't an issue, then mark your calendars because the Debs are coming to Boston! Friday, June 8th at Grub Street world headquarters we'll toast Jennifer McMahon, Tish Cohen, and Patry Francis while they read from their debut novels. This event will also feature a fun contest: each author will pick one name from a hat, and the winner will receive a free consultation with the author on their query letter and first manuscript page. RSVP: 617.695.0075 or


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lynne, I hope you and your daughter enjoy The Things They Carried--it's one of my all-time favorites (I'd nominate it for something that should be required reading for everyone!). I was lucky enough to meet Tim O'Brien a few years ago at a reading--what a kind man!

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

For me, I think it's safe to say even the corpses in my novel don't have quite the stunted social life I've had lately.

I love this, Amy! My world has been swamped with details lately, the kind of details that keep me from my revisions and feed my guilt over it.

Lynne, I am teaching a freshman writing course this year, and we are using The Things They Carried as a reader. Can't wait!

Trish Ryan said...

Great philosophy and new book events...what more could a girl ask for in a post?

Nice to know I'm not the only writer who gets lost in the world of edits :)

Larramie said...

Please take pictures of the upcoming events and then share. Thank you.

Lisa said...

Which came first, the writing or the need...I'll be thinking about that all weekend Lisa.

And Amy, as for my social life -- I'll bet your corpses have one up on me too. Between working from home, writing at night, online grocery shopping and Amazon, my friends worry I'm turning into a suburban version of Ted Kaczynski -- not the Unabomber part, probably more likely the fashion sense :) It will be three painters and me for dinner tomorrow night and maybe out for live music tonight, so there's hope!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, I'm so jealous you got to meet him. What's he like?

GG, the end of school year schedule is about to do me in, plus new puppy, work! Soldier on, I guess.

Trish, I hope you can stop by the Grub event. Maybe sometime you'd be willing to do a workshop at Grub Street South? Let me know.

Larramie, we will definitely take more pictures. I'm really looking forward to the coming week.

Lisa, I hear you. I would LOVE to have dinner with three painters. Will they bring along some of their work?


Lisa said...


One of them is Scott so his work is already here and the other two will very likely bring their latest work. I love the dinners with painters because usually the first hour or so is a show and tell and I just listen to what they all say and see how they critique each other. It's always very positive and they support each other in much the same way the writers "out here" do. I feel really lucky that Scott has painter friends over often. I learn a lot.

Anonymous said...

I wrote my first poem at the age of nine. I guess I had the need to write. Why I do not know.

I remember the Chinese curse " May you live in interesting times."
My characters seem to be cursed also, as they should.If they aren't I am doing something wrong.

Fresh air never hurt a writer. Go, get some. Might even breathe some more life into the corpses. :)

John Robison said...

Several of you have written about my upcoming book, Look Me in the Eye. Crown is setting up readings at bookstores in the Boston area, and my brother and I will be reading at the festival in Lowell November 2nd.

Would you be interested in doing a writing-oriented appearance at your club in July or August, before it gets really busy for me?

I'd love to come out if you can put something together.