Writers Reading their Writing


I love books. I'd like to flounder around in a pile of old, smelly ones. And I like writers too. I like listening to them talk about their work and their process; I watch their faces and try to figure out how they do what they do. I want in on the secret.

The Thin Air International Writer's Festival is happening right now, and some of the writers came to my school today and read to us from their books. I wasn't looking forward to it; I thought I would have a hard time staying awake.

Not so. I was really into it, and I had to stop myself from asking too many questions.

One of the authors referred to us as "communications people." For some reason this annoyed me, because I don't really think of myself as that. I consider myself an artist (I deleted this sentence a few times, because I fear how pompous it sounds, but I think it's time for creative people to stop pussyfooting around this big, scary label), and creative writing is my passion. We were asking him deep, personal questions, and it's almost like because we are "communications people" that he didn't expect us to get so personal. There were moments when I felt the conversation approaching a very emotional level of realness, and I felt that he pulled away from it. (This is my feeling, I could have just been projecting, or looking for an emotional discussion for selfish reasons. :) )

I shouldn't assume that just because he's a writer, he's willing to go there and be vulnerable. However, he did say before reading from his book that we would see that he's up for talking about almost anything. He baited me with that statement, and I was ready to ask the personal question. I wanted to know how he felt being up there in front of us, reading his work. He said, "It's a process."

That's not a feeling.

I wished that I was alone with him, and all the writers for that matter, in a coffee shop, so that I could ask them what I really wanted to know and get a more personal answer. Questions like, "Why do you write about sex so much?" and "How do you know if what you've written is good?" and "How do you get yourself to sit down and write?"

I came out of the experience full of inspiration, and with a renewed enthusiasm for writing. Earlier this week I worried that after so many assignments, the creativity well was drying up.  I'm glad I was wrong.

Here are two juicy ones for this week:

1. Your mind may tell you you're running out of things to say. Don't believe it.

2. Your creativity well needs to be replenished as often as you draw from it. I do this by reading, listening to podcasts, and by helping someone else with their creative pursuit.


ps. Did you know pussyfoot is one word? No hyphen or anything! Huh.