Monthly Archives: February 2011

Essay on Salon, plus some reflections

My latest essay, originally entitled “On Coming Out,” appears in the Life section of Salon. Check it out here.

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Dispatches from AWP 11

I had never been to this conference before. I wish I’d gone back in 2008 when it was in New York City AND I had a book coming out. This year’s was in D.C., and it was awesome. I collected a bunch of notes I re-posted for my Mediabistro students and figured I’d put a little truncated taste here on this blog as well. This selection comes courtesy of one of my very favorite panels, about being a writer without a full-time academic job. These days, it seems creative writing and the academy are very merged, and it’s harder to imagine doing it the Kerouac or Heming – way of living some kind of more extreme life and translating that to the page. There are various kinds of writing lives within the larger concept of “The Writing Life” and that was always the one I was drawn to, ever since I was a teenager. Maybe it was just a way to avoid feeling like I had to grow up and work in an office, but I still think there’s something to trying to keep things (ie, your time) open in your life, and how that might be better for your writing.
I’ve been able to do some travel writing as a result, for instance. It’s all about striking a balance, but it isn’t easy or everyone would do it. A more recent example can be found in Elizabeth Gilbert, who shunned the MFA route in favor of working in a bar, traveling, listening to people…the school of life. When you’re a writer, every room you walk into is a classroom, everything that happens is a lesson.
Knowing there are many possible tracks is a comforting thing in a career that’s heavy on risk.

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