Reading at Common Good Books

work_in_progress_readingI’m reading from the novel at Common Good Books on Thursday, November 6th at 7:00 pm. I’ll be sharing the room with the esteemed Robert Martin and Caitlin Bailey, who are likewise reading from their own manuscripts in progress. Come see what happens when you give the room (and the mic!) to a bunch of writers whose work isn’t yet bound between two covers.

It’s sure to be a high-wire night full of daring and bravado—or white-knuckled terror, depending on how easy/difficult it is to read from new work to a room full (one hopes) of friends. Ah, who am I kidding? It’s going to be a blast. Come for the wild ride because this lineup has never happened before and may never happen again.

For thrilling details like bios and so on, see the event listing at Common Good Books.

To make sure that I know you are coming so I know who’s going to be heckling me, join the Facebook event.

Thanks to the brilliant Jon Troutman for making this awesome event poster.

Thanks to David Enyeart at Common Good Books for hosting us.

And thanks to the Minnesota State Arts Board for making all this possible.

msab_logo_color_smallSteve Woodward is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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A Writer’s Guide to Rocking Out

For all those who live the double life, a list:

1. Never apologize for rocking out.

2. Writers are jealous of other writers. Musicians are jealous of other musicians. But writer/musicians respect other writer/musicians.

3. Some people will say that you play too loud. Hand them earplugs and turn it up.

4. Ignore sage advice from professionals, to wit: only slavish dedication to a single discipline yields results.

5. Songs are stories. So much depends on how they are told.

6. If you have to ask why you do what you do, it’s over. But only for the day. You can start again tomorrow.

7. Sometimes you have to get the Led out to finish that revision.

8. You will not be understood by some people. That’s okay. You won’t understand them either.

9. Repeat after me: I live to write and to rock out. It doesn’t have to be a compromise.

10. Nowhere does it say that you have to write a rock novel.

In honor of J. Robert Lennon, and his 100 song/100 story pairing.

cf JRL at NYT Magazine

After the Fatwa

JosephAnton_online-version_HC_nospineRushdie’s been getting plenty of coverage for his recent third-person memoir, and not all of it is positive. Over at the Atlantic, a reviewer made the case that the fatwa was successful in silencing Rushdie. And over at the B&N Review, they also say that too much celebrity has not been good. Too much name dropping is never fun to read. So, politics, celebrity, and writers collide, and the writer comes off the worse for it.

Tobias Wolff

From the Paris Review interview with Tobias Wolff comes this gem, in answer to the question of why writers don’t like to talk about their work:

But I have also learned that you can be patient and diligent and sometimes it just doesn’t strike sparks. After a while you begin to understand that writing well is not a promised reward for being virtuous. No, every time you do it you’re stepping off into darkness and hoping for some light. You can be faithful, work hard, not waste your talents in drink, and still not have it happen. That’s what makes writers nervous—the sense of the thing being given, day by day. You might have been writing good stories for years, then for some reason the stories aren’t so good. Anything that seems able to jinx you, to invite trouble, writers avoid. And one of the things that writers very quickly learn to avoid is talking their work away. Talking about your work hardens it prematurely, and weakens the charge. You need to keep a fluid sense of the work in hand—it has to be able to change almost without your being aware that it’s changing.

What levels me is how he clarifies the whole issue by admitting that it isn’t so much about losing the story as it is about the whole enterprise falling apart. In a moment of clarity, seeing your sense of yourself as a writer become just what you suspected it might be: a failure of imagination. Reluctance to discuss the work is an attempt to prevent that moment from coming true. To make it just another of many possible fictions.

Read the rest of the interview.