I’ve been working hard on my novel’s fourth draft all week. After being away from it for awhile, I was able to see a part where it drags, and I need to figure out how to tell it in a different way, or perhaps not tell that part at all; I haven’t worked that out yet.
Saturday morning, I came up for air to go to the Wordstock festival at the Convention Center. It was the best thing I could have done. In addition to rows and rows of booths with different small press publishers and lit mags, authors were reading their work, giving talks, and participating in panel discussions on eight different stages. There were so many, it was hard to choose which ones to attend! You could also sign up for workshops; I didn’t but bought the book that went with one of them, Get Known Before the Book Deal, a Platform Development Checklist by Christina Katz.
I loved Joyce Maynard, who read from her new novel, Labor Day. Julia Glass read from I See You Everywhere. Her first novel, Three Junes, the book I’m currently reading, won the National Book Award. Prior to that though, it took seven years of continuously sending her work out before her first short story was accepted. Stories like that really give me hope. I was late to the panel, “Fire and Ink: Writing About Social Action,” and missed some of it, but the speakers were either mumbling and not speaking into the microphones, or the microphones were off; at any rate, I couldn’t hear anything they said. Then the poet Frances Payne Adler got up, turned on her mike, and blew us all out of the water with a riveting poem about a woman being arrested and dragged off by the police.
Authors in the panel, “My First Book,” were giving advice to a 13-year-old who wants to write. It was either Naseem Rakha or Marie Mockett who told her to make a note in every book she reads when she comes to a paragraph that grips her emotions; just write the feeling down in the margin–sadness, anger, joy–and then go back later and figure out what the author did to evoke that emotion. I think I might try that myself.