Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words With Friends

Well, today was the day! There was a President's Lecture Series on campus in which five members of the faculty who are published writers got to share a little of our writing and discuss our writing process. Here's me beforehand, all miked up and looking (I was told) just like a sportscaster.

Naturally, being the ham I am, I double-checked my mike prior to the beginning of the event by suddenly turning it on and quipping, "No, my name's not Janet; it's Miss Jackson if you're nasty." This, at least, brought laughter from the event coordinator, Helen, whereas the old ladies in the front row looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.

The event went well. Each of us read about a minute or two of a prepared poem or prose, and then the audience was invited to ask questions. There were none, so then our moderator (also one of the readers), Autumn Newman, went around the horn and asked each of us about the piece we'd each read. By that point, the audience had relaxed a bit more and we opened the floor to questions again, and questions--mostly directed to the entire panel--filled out the rest of the program.

It was pretty laid back and interesting, and it was nice to finally get an acknowledgment from the College of San Mateo that yes, indeed, there are members of the faculty who do creative writing and are published. Normally these events feature a "name" author--Anne Lamott, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Adrienne Rich are three who leap immediately to mind--so it's kind of cool to have now shared the same stage as writers of that caliber.

What I read was the first page and a half of the short story that is published here. It's called "How to Break Your Lover's Heart," and was, as I explained in the forum, inspired by a short story in Lorrie Moore's collection titled Self-Help. The title story was written in the 2nd person, which is pretty rare, so my story began as a writing exercise, really, and then grew and grew until it became something publishable.

Kudos to all those on the panel, who had some incredible poems and prose to share and who all answered questions thoughtfully and helpfully.

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