Tasting Life Twice
Author Crystal King muses on life, history, writing and food.
Posts about grub street:
It seems like the last retreat has just come and gone and here we are again, leaving husbands and children behind, off to Maine and a kickass writing schedule with good good friends and inspiring fellow writers.
Many people I talk to think my retreat is a boondoggle of sorts, as though I'm only saying that I'm going to Maine to write but I'll really just be sitting on the beach getting tan. So to prove that idea wrong, here's our schedule.
I've been a bit sparse in my posts lately because my time has not been my own! But it's all good and the world of writing, of ancient Rome, of Renaissance Italy and all that goodness has been swirling around in my head in grand incubation mode. It's the Muse at work, I think.
We're coming up on the next Grub Street Muse and the Marketplace and I couldn't be more excited! I have a session on social media at the conference, but I will also be there as a writer, participating in the Manuscript Marts (I'm meeting with two agents this year, more on that in a future blog post), and attending classes. This year's keynotes include James Wood and Amanda Palmer. It's the first year that the Muse has had two keynotes (one on the Muse, one on the Marketplace) so that should be interesting!
James and Amanda will have their work cut out for them though, to top this amazing keynote by Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) two years ago. Absolutely brilliant. And while it's long, it's definitely worth watching in its entirety. I still have chills thinking about it. He's an absolutely masterful storyteller.
With all this talk of love, I have to begin by saying that in one's life there are always certain people who you feel proud to know, who you want all your other friends to meet, and who you wish could always come to every party. One of those people is Christopher Castellani, who I still thank the stars that I met many years past. Christopher is a rare soul, and the hundreds upon hundreds of people in the book industry that know him (he's a key driving force at the magnificent Grub Street writing center) are likely to tell you that.
I have grown to know Christopher more and more over the years but after our initial meeting, my first foray into understanding a little about him was by reading his first book, which still ranks among my most memorable reads in my life, "A Kiss From Maddelena." In it we meet the protagonist of all three of his books, Maddelena Grasso, a sweet, shy and beautiful woman who is swept away by the circumstances around her-- the ending of WWII and a father who wants to arrange her marriage, but not to the boy she loves. I can still picture Maddelena as a girl, flying through the town on her bicycle. I can feel the emotion of the clandestine moments with Vito, the boy who steals her heart. I can still remember the roller coaster of emotions that first book put me through.
For the last four (nearly five?) years or so I've been meeting with my writing group, not quite like clockwork, but about every two weeks. The three of us have hacked and slashed and encouraged each other's novels from start to finish, and gone through query letters, agent pitches and publishing challenges during that time. And of course, best of all, we have become close and dear friends as part of the process, bolstering spirits as we deal with family, illness, relationships, weddings, work woes and the ilk. I will know Anjali and Jen until I'm quite old and wizened, I am convinced.
Awhile back I thought I read that Ursula K. LeGuin has been in a writing group for many many years (if I'm remembering right she talks about this in Steering the Craft). At the time I remembering thinking, wow, someone as accomplished as she is still meets with others to go over her work?! I was impressed, but at the time, I didn't really understand the power of having ongoing encouragement that comes from being part of a small group that truly cares about your work. It's invaluable. Because of my writing group I don't get lazy. I moved immediately from finished to researching my next book. I feel compelled to move on the next chapter. I get excited to turn in work for feedback. I get lost in the worlds of their books. In short, because of this group I am on the continuous hamster wheel of writing creativity and as those of you know, if you fall off, it's a massive PITA to jump back on.