Friday, August 24, 2007

Making A Literary Life Friday: A Full Life

Grace Paley spoke at last year's Muse and the Marketplace, hosted by Grub Street in Boston, and everyone in the audience was moved to laughter and tears and rueful chuckles and wondering shakes of the head as she read her work. She died yesterday, a full life behind her, a treasure trove of stories for us all to re-read as we want. May we all be so lucky, to have and appreciate those things that are most important to us in life.

Never have I been so moved when hearing someone speak. I was impressed by Grace's courage; she was a lifelong activist for causes she believed in. I was shocked and enamoured with the beauty of her prose. Her writing is not shiny or forced, but is rich with meaning and humor; she hit the mark with each word. She was brilliant.

As I look back to her keynote speech at Grub Street's 2005 Muse & the Marketplace, I think of how Christopher Castellani stood at Grace's side, repeating audience questions to her, adjusting the microphone for her. He graciously served her, demonstrating an embodiment of the respect that all conference attendees felt for her that day. A life well lived and an inspiration for all.

Oh, Grace, yours was a life well-lived. I'm so grateful to Grub Street for providing the opportunity to hear you speak. Thankfully, we have your words to guide us whenever we need inspiration. Rest now.

My stack of to-be-read grows smaller, though twice this week friends made recommendations and those books are now waiting their turn. Which ones? The Other Mother by Gwendolen Gross and The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer, which my friend promises will make me laugh. I've yet to read Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons and Nathaniel Fick's One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. They must come first. Fair warning, however, if I should get my hands on an ARC of Alice Sebold's Almost Moon or Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher, I will have to take the unprecented step of putting down whatever book is in my hands, a hiatus if you will, to take up either of those. And if anyone has read Amy Bloom's Away, let me know what you think. Is it a buy or borrow book? My gut tells me buy -- hardcover.

Health and time top my list of what is most precious. With a nod to the old back-to-school Staples ad using the song, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," I am very ready for my body and my writing to benefit from more predictable schedules. Catch-as-catch-can is fun, as are the activities that come with the summer sun, but in my advancing age I am loving those routines more and more!

Given Grace Paley's passing and a reread of Amy's post, Write Now, I'm feeling the itch to dive back into writing my second novel. The characters have been bending my ear all summer. At the lake, or on my walks, one woman in particular keeps trying to tell me her side of things. I think I'll start taking notes.

As for my book launch, in twelve days my book will be in bookstores. News of a good review from Library Journal, and Penguin's desire to make Negotiation Generation an ebook, fill me with hope for its success. And of course, the support I've received from The Writers' Group can't be beat. It's been a very good week.


Lisa said...

For such a long time now, when I've thought of Vermont, I've thought of maple syrup, cheddar and Grace Paley. The world has lost a gifted artist and a feisty character.

Larramie said...

Amy, The NYT Book Review on Sunday will let you know about Away. However I didn't wait and -- with discount coupons in hand -- purchased my copy at Barnes and Noble this morning. At 46% off, it felt as though I was stealing it away. ;)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, I like to think her writing has made her immortal. Pancakes on Sunday with lots of maple syrup in honor of Grace.

Larramie, I read Ron Charles' review in the Washington Post last weekend, we tend to have the same taste, and I did read the NYT review as well. Knowing you bought it, well, that makes it a sure thing.


Lisa said...

Away is one of the books on the Writers Revealed Virtual Book Club that I signed up for -- I'm supposed to receive a copy in the mail sometime soon and then there will be a book discussion with Amy Bloom...