Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part II

Yesterday, I revised an old post from my trip to AWP LA ’16, a time capsule from graduate school. 💊 Today and tomorrow, I’ll continue that narrative…

I was a good student. I took a lot of notes back then! 😉

Quote Response 💜 Embracing a Poetics of Joy

The moderator, Lisa Dordal, had simply breath-taking arguments about why we should find joy in our writing, which speaks to the same message Liz Gilbert makes in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear when she tells this love story:

My friend, Dr. Robin, is a botanist and author who teaches botany…her students are all fervent young environmentalists…before they can get down to the business of world-saving though, my friend Robin asks them these two questions:

The first question is, Do you love nature?

Every hand in the room goes up.

The second question is, Do you believe nature loves you in return?

Every hand in the room goes down.

At which point, Robin says, Then we have a problem already.

Gilbert urges us readers,(us creative people,) we must love our creativity, and our creativity must love us; to put it another way, that we must love writing, and our writing must love us—or our dancing, or whatever we spend our time creating.

Then Gilbert warns us that “trusting in nothing but suffering is a dangerous path,” that “suffering has a reputation for killing off artists,” that “even when it doesn’t kill them, an addiction to pain can sometimes throw artists into such severe mental disorder that they stop working at all.”

After those urgings, Gilbert quotes Oscar Wilde’s description of the writerly experience as “one long lovely suicide,” to which she confides, “I adore Wilde, but I have trouble seeing suicide as lovely, I have trouble seeing any of this anguish…as lovely.”

Similarly, Dordal told her AWP audience to love curiosity, saying, “No one can take my curiosity away from me,” and “I never expect anything from my curiosity,” but “I’m never going to get rejected by my curiosity;” all quotes that are rather interchangeable with many of Gilbert’s approaches towards creativity. Dordal also praised how curiosity brings joy to her while she’s writing her poetry, then she said:

Writing poetry heals loneliness… It brings us to this feeling of transcendence, feeling of creation… It brings us to shared human history.

In this way, she suggested spiritual joy we receive from poetry, writing, art, et cetera, as a transcendental elevation; and curiosity takes us down that path, towards our spirit.

That was just the beginning of the panel.

I’ll blog later about what Ellen Bass, Traci Brimhall, and Jericho Brown shared on the poetics of joy. I could write about this for several more hours; this was my favorite panel in quite some time.But since I have way too many notes to transcribe, too many comments to add, too many buried emotions that surface with the transcribing and the adding, I’ll wayside those thoughts until I return to Fresno.

Listing ❤ The Author as Entrepreneur

I was way too hungry to attend this panel; the poetics of joy went over the allotted time, then I had to cross the West Wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center to get to this presentation. When you’re small and hungry, the West Wing of the L.A. Convention Center is no small feat.

So I didn’t take the notes that this panel deserved.

But I made it to the panel at least, and I had the good fortune to listen to the advice from The Authors Guild, made up of the panel moderator and some contributors. Notes:

  • Social media is useful, as usual; Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest recommended;
  • Medium.com is a good place to submit writing to build an audience, following, traffic;
  • Be careful with your rights when you get a book contract; and even if you give away rights in your contract, such as audiobooks, translations, and movie deals, you can include a stipulation that the publishing house forfeit those rights if they don’t use them in XYZ years, so be proactive about including these CYAs;
  • When Amazon.com changed the value of the book to the reading public, the Fair Contract Initiative sprang into being as a massive CYA for authors;
  • Publishers squeeze authors only because they’re also being squeezed; having this empathy is nice, so long as you don’t get over-squeezed in the process;
  • Approach book publication as a business person;
  • If your book ends up in the forays of Hollywood studios, don’t get your hopes up, because it can fall through anywhere, from producers to screenwriters and so on;
  • Don’t offer to write your book’s screenplay; it’s a different art form, for a different artist;
  • When you get your book rights back, (and hopefully you do,) (copyright is ugly,) self publishing is an option; and there’s no harm in sending that self-published e-book of your old book as a gift to your e-mail subscribers;
  • It’s a great idea to have e-mail subscribers that you contact monthly;
  • You should have a platform building up, a readership, people who will support you, spread the word about your book, love you forever, and you can do this lots of ways, including the first bullet point about social media, or, hey, a blog.

I wish I had more notes this. I did jot down to check out Michelle Richmond’s website later. She was one of the panelists.


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Author:

Kourtnie McKenzie holds an MFA (Fiction) from Fresno State and a BA in English (Literature Studies) from Cal State Fullerton. When she isn't writing novellas, she's moonlighting as a professor at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. To read more of her writing, visit en.gravatar.com/kourtnie.

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