Back from The Muse and the Marketplace, Grub Street's annual writefest. And wow. Of course, Boston's primo anytime, but Friday when I emerged from the Park Street T, the Public Garden was awash in pinks and ivories and that sweet Spring green that lasts about a day.
But before I get to the business, here's the pleasure -- spending time with friends. I thai-ed one on with dear friend Colleen Khao Sarn (think keffir leaves with dried shrimp and toasted coconut, crispy calamari, and mango curry shrimp) and the next evening dined with Nudger Steve and Dee at the Erbaluce (think: a well-rounded nebbelio, prosciutto with hazelnuts and organic pear, rabbit roasted with foraged mushrooms, lobster in a saffron sauce, razor clams).
Now, to the writing (it IS all about the writing, afterall). I attended the 10th annual Muse and the Marketplace, sponsored by Boston's own GRUB STREET. A two day conference, this year over 700 writers, agents, and editors converged to talk shop, listen and learn, and do all other things writerly. Saturday morning I met with An Agent, who had read my query and first 20 pages of Novel #1.
Then, off to my first session on revision, led by the very able and fabulous writer Ann Hood. "Take your first draft on a date," she says. "Have Kinko's box your baby up and go to the beach, a cafe, a mountain, armed with pens, highlighters, and post-its, and rip her apart." The best exercise: go through each scene and note the emotion at the beginning and end as positive or negative. If the signs are the same, either ditch the scene or ramp up the tension to switch one sign to the opposite.
Pauline Chen gave a great talk about balancing two careers. A liver transplant surgeon, she penned FINAL EXAM: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality. We spoke afterwards, and we talked about mourning lost roles as we formed new ones. I purchased her memoir, which she graciously signed, and devoured half of it later that evening. Her stories resonate so deeply (see Colleen, I can use an adverb).
Lots of great sessions on voice, story structure, tips of applying for residencies and fellowships. Ron Carlson admonished writers to stay in the room -- and write. I met new friends, bought a few books, read three of my 1 sentence stories (I am no longer a reading virgin - yay!), and got super inspired.
Oh, and the Agent? My first full request. Fingers crossed.
And now, I am exhausted. Peace, Linda