Why try to engineer masterpieces anyway? The idea smacks of our tendency to make a science out of every imaginable pursuit.
A mother abandoning her children is an inversion of the orphan tale. It may even feel to some readers like a perversion. It’s a story that’s easy to read and say, without thinking, ‘I can’t imagine.’
And yet, most of us can.
I guess I assumed that a graduate program full of artists dedicated to seeing beyond the world’s masks would be better on the race front—that despite all my previous experience with white-majority institutions the workshop would be an exception. What can I tell you? In those days I must have needed that little fantasy, that little hope that somewhere shit might be better.
Like I said: I was young.
How do you keep going back and back and back in conditions that are really awful? It’s the people that keep you going back; it’s these deep engagements with these people that you’re learning a great deal from. … It really is a respect and a love for these people that has nothing to do with your own virtue. It has to do with their claim on your heart. Then the trick is how do you get that onto the page so that people in New York, 8,000 miles away from their community, will be able to engage with their dilemmas?
Writing Workshops LA – which was founded by our own Edan Lepucki – is hosting “The Conference” on June 28 of this year, and the day-long event will consist of “educational and thoughtful panel discussions as well as smaller, in-depth presentations and workshops aimed at informing and inspiring every attendee.” Presenters will include award-winning literary agents, editors, and writers including Joanna Rakoff, Adam Wilson, David L. Ulin, Counterpoint’s Dan Smetanka, and Daniel Gumbiner of McSweeney’s. Don’t miss your chance to sign up for the early bird special before April 15th – the first 40 attendees will also get an invitation to a literary pub quiz event the night before.
I like to say that this is my ‘fuck you’ book.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.