Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting Grubbie

I'm back.

Exhausted. Thrilled. Energized.

What a fabulous conference - the Muse and the Marketplace. Sponsored by GRUB STREET. In my old stomping grounds of Boston and Cambridge, no less.

The generous writers sharing their knowledge and experiences: superb. We're talking about Anita Shreve (Body Surfing), Jennifer Haigh (Mrs. Kimble), Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves), Julia Glass (Three Junes), and Karl Iagnemma (On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction and The Expeditions; I've blogged about him before, this scientist-writer, and he is soooo cute in person). Bret Anthony Johnston (Corpus Christi: Stories) gave a fabulous session on point of view; he is a natural teacher.

And of course, the keynote speaker was Jonathan Franzen, who's reading from The Discomfort Zone moved me to tears as he related Kafka and Rilke (my personal poetry fave) to seeing his family members as individuals rather than mere relations. Beautiful.

I met several cyber-writing friends, including Steve from the Nudge-Nudge Collective, my on-line writing group, and MAGS, and TIM. And though not a friend of mine, I did chat with the incomparable Janet Reid, agent with a 'tude.

I went to this conference for a number of reasons, but mostly as a litmus test of sorts: to see if I've been deluding myself these past two years about this writing path I've journeyed on. I sought validation for: 1/ my writing; and 2/ my heart.

In reverse order... I realized as soon as I met Steve and his wife Dee in the 1369 coffee house in Inman Square that my heart was indeed in the right place. I love writing. I love talking about it, sharing it, reading the writings of others.

My writing... was validated, in ways I could never imagine. First, during Editor Idol. When the first page of BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT was read aloud by a professional actress before a crowd of a 100 and three editors posing as Randy, Paula, and Simon made it without an interruption, followed by three nodding heads and "yes, this is good. I'd read more," you couldn't have pulled me down with an angel. The meeting with a agent who runs what I'd describe as a boutique agency grounded me a bit more, but her words of "you have talent" and "this submission rose to the top" gave me more reason for elation. BUT... (there is always a but, isn't there) my story is a quiet literary one, a story without the "WOW" factor called for debut works. It seems that a fate worse than not publishing may actually be publishing without either strong sales or reviews. I was advised to make another editing pass on BTB, then keep it in reserve after the first book is published.

At first, her advice kind of devastated me. But then, I realized she was looking at me, the career writer. She was looking out for me. And perhaps she saw enough good in those first 20 pages of my freshman effort to think I have more books in me.

Guess this means it's time to move onto PURE.

BUT... I will market BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. One of my teachers, a wonderful mentor named Lauren Mosko, agrees BTB is probably best suited for a small press. And I am okay with that because I am not sure what path I want my writing to take - commercial or literary. And more and more, the agent scene is the commercial one. And perhaps the most stressful one.

So I will continue to plug away on my novels. And my poems. This IS getting ridiculous==> LOVE SONG ON THE INNER LOOP Based on a prose piece from a novel-in-progress.

I feel blessed, blissed, exuberantly happy I am writer.

At least today.

Peace, Linda


  1. Linda,

    It was great meeting you, and congrats on your Agent Idol survivalism--pretty damned impressive. I, too, thought Franzen was great, particularly in the extent of his passion for fiction as the last bastion of certain forms of ambiguity and complexity that films and argument alone can only approximate. I wish I hadn't been so starstruck and jittery when I spoke to the guy afterward, but hey...

    Take care and I look forward to crossing paths again.


  2. The poem is awesome, Linda! Truly beautiful.

    I got giddier and giddier as each line of BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT was read--surviving the hatchet--and came to the end. The editors' responses were unanimous and exciting. I'm so glad I got to be there.

  3. Wonderful news and I'm sure you will float for a while. Your name will be remembered when next they (agents) hear it.
    Way to go, consider yourself patted on the back.

  4. well, damn.


    I get teary every time I hear about it.

    I'm just so HAPPY. and you, my dear, are smoking hot. Now pass some of that cheesecake. It's not fair you get ALL the good stuff. ;)

  5. LINDA!!!

    This is awesome and incredible news! I'm ecstatic for you!

    Way to go on "Idol" : ) I'm so glad you had such a validating time there, in many senses of the word!

    Always cheering for you,

  6. Congrats, Linda! News like this gives us all hope. Keep pushing.

  7. Hey Linda,
    Just wanted to leave a track on your blog to let everyone know how much fun I had meeting you too. You are that writer, you have that talent and I am so happy to see you validated like you were at the conference. You're so cool in real life too. ;)

  8. Linda, that's fantastic news. Really fantastic. You will be there again one day, several novels under your belt, encouraging new authors from the podium who will return home and say, "Wow, I got to meet Linda W."


  9. You had me at Rilke...

    Clearly you had a lovely experience. And to think not too long ago you were lamenting agent issues. How quickly things change.

    Congratulations. May the Fear of the Inexplicable always shine through our darker moments.

  10. Hey all, THANK YOU! I'm still glowing... at least I'm heading in a direction :^)

    But I'm still a long, long way from getting 1/ agented and 2/ published. And just like the lottery - you gotta play to win - getting to market means you gotta send out the queries. So Friday I'll be buying me a ream of vair nice paper and matching envelopes, and getting this pony on the road.
    Hitting up the small press first, but a handful of agents as well...

    Keep writing, and peace... Linda

  11. 1369 is my favorite coffee shop of all time. Wonder if we've met. Anyway, thanks for the post.