Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday (the 13th) Fridge Clean Out: No Unlucky Writers Here

• I attended a reading last night, and during the Q&A, an audience member remarked that the alliteration and rhythm of a particular sequence was especially appealing. The author, looking surprised, said she'd never noticed it before. This was a happy instance of when reading work aloud resulted in a good discovery. And it's why I swear by the wisdom of reading everything I write out loud at some point in the revision process -- alone in my office or living room – because more often than not, the opposite happens: some rough language or clunky construction only becomes apparent when it's heard.

• Take a first look at Second Pass, a relatively new books and reading site.

• Jean Hartig, writing on the Poets & Writers website, makes several good points about the challenges of life after the MFA.

"….writing programs don't tend to teach the skill set required to work fruitfully—and joyfully—beyond their gilt walls. The MFA experience does not necessarily prepare us to be writers in the world. Our time as students is set apart as a sacrosanct period during which we perform the very important work of honing and polishing our craft, but little guidance is given as to how we might preserve that sacred lifestyle (as well as the more profane, yet necessary, moments of criticism and editing) once outside the bubble. On the other hand, no one could have told us then that our devotions would flag and that distractions—such as earning a living and making our way in the world—would threaten to prevent us from writing altogether."

You can read the rest of her thoughtful essay, which also has tips for creating a writing community post-MFA.

• When I was a public relations specialist and a freelance reporter (in the dinosaur 1980s and early 90s) the telephone was the best, fastest, and often only route to information. On a busy day I spent hours on the phone, and at some point began to loathe it; while these days I can go days without once reaching for it. But yesterday, because email was not getting me the information I needed in a timely manner, I made actual telephone calls.

The first was bad news -- the publication's current issue would be its last, and my previously accepted piece was now once again in need of a home. Disappointing, but good to know. Next, I left a message (with a human) and got a return call within minutes: So glad you called, where is the response to the edits we sent last week? Huh? Turned out someone had transposed letters in my email address. In the third case, I reached voice mail, and an hour later, received an apologetic email about staffing disruptions and assuring me my essay was still scheduled for publication.

Maybe it was just me, but it seemed as if each editor was either pleased to take a phone call, or at least appreciated the chance to quickly clear up misunderstandings, and not annoyed by the telephone contact, as I think many writers fear. Could it be the never-empty, guilt-inducing email in-box is actually making the phone look good?

Have a great weekend.

1 comment:

Michelle O'Neil said...

Talking to a real live person? Interesting strategy Lisa! Well played!