Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

By Amy

Many of you may already listen to Fresh Air, but for those of you who don't, tune in. It's because of an interview Terry Gross did with Jonathan Franzen that I started writing fiction.

One rainy afternoon about six years ago, while home with the children, wondering who I was, who I'd become, I heard this interview. In it (at some point that's since been edited), she asked about the angst of the writing life. His response completely changed the course of my life. To paraphrase (and if you listen to the interview you'll understand he's far more erudite than I could hope to be), Jonathan Franzen said writing The Corrections was fun. Yes, fun.

Once the show was over, I headed straight for my computer and began writing a novel. Immediately. Nearly six hours later, I emerged from my room soaring. My goodness, he was right. I owe so much to the two of them. Inspiration is a potent gift to bestow, especially to a hopeless stranger.

I'm not alone in my adoration of Terry Gross. Two weeks ago she was presented with the Literarian Award by the National Book Award Foundation. It happened to be the same night I was in New York. That alone thrilled me. Ms. Gross is one of the few members of the media who cares, who devotes whole shows to literature. Even more staggering, she actually reads the books before conducting an interview. I know some of you who've been interviewed about your writing will appreciate that. In a time when book sections are shrinking, book tours are disappearing, and independent booksellers are shuttering up shop, Terry Gross stimulates the minds and souls of her listeners. She is a national treasure.

So, Ms. Gross, I salute you and I thank you for the gift of hope.

Please note:
Grub Street South Workshop Tonight at 7:00 pm
Instructor: Suzette Martinez Standring author of The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists.
Topic: Learn How to Write with Brevity and Impact


Lisa Marnell said...

Oh, Amy, in these few years I've known you, I never knew what inspired you to write fiction. Thank goodness you listen to NPR; you are a gifted writer!

Larramie said...

What I adore and respect most about you, Amy, is that you truly lead a writing life. Who knows when an inspirational/motivational experience will come along, but thank goodness for Terry Gross and Jonathan Franzen for allowing you to have fun!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, I'd always assumed writing fiction was an angst-filled process -- and it is -- but is equal parts exhilirating. It is a lusty life.

Larramie, thank you. I wish I had more time to reduce all of my lives into one so that I could satisfy all of the demands. Isn't it fascinating to know that inspiration can be found in the most unexpected ways? Say in a bouquet of daisies?