26 April 2011

The Fountain of Youth, or What Does a Writer’s Resumé Really Look Like?

I’ll be Gobsmacked! The news comes pouring in and I bail it here (links listed below):

I continue to chase down Captain Jessica Maxwell, that slippery lass, and shiver me timbers, I’ve booked an interview with her on May 26th. She’s sailing at top speed! She’s writing a Bhutan book proposal, a NW Palate assignment, and traveling to New Mexico and New York for research on her big AARP assignment, “Retreats.” For those who follow her Roll Around Heaven adventures and want to join her, she’ll be doing a RAH! Workshop in Sun Valley, Idaho May 19-23, followed by giving a RAH! talk in Portland, Oregon, on May 25.

I’m tired to me bones just writin’ this!

One of my long-time favorite authors, Alice Hoffman, turned me on to a guilty pleasure—the television show “Being Erica.” As she says on Facebook, “… therapy and time travel, what more can you ask from a TV series!”

Don’ sail past her latest work of fiction, The Red Garden, a collection of linked stories that, after readin’ the first four stories, seems to ha’ disappearing as a theme. In her magical way she takes ye through two-hundred years in the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts. Being from New England, I love the mysterious, the dark, the Gothic, so these stories makes me blood surge.

A hearty lift of the tankard to Jennifer Egan who just won the Pulitzer for her A Visit from the Goon Squad, a novel on me “best reads.” Attn: Time Magazine: it’s TIME! Put her on the cover.

The always adventurous Seattle7Writers have launched Hotel Angeline: a novel in 36 Voices. A fleet of writers collaborate on a novel? Aye!

Now, to Captain Val Adventures!

The Fountain of Creative Ideas, or
Why My Resume Wouldn't Land Me a Normal Job

The Fountain of Youth, or
What Does a Writer’s Resumé Really Look Like?

            Where to begin, me hearties? Why, at the end of me last Captain’s Log, that’s where!
            I still be thinkin’ on that chandelier. It’s me love of lights, of things that sparkle. Why? ‘Cause I write about the dark things in life, seekin’ the proverbial “light at the end of the passageway.” It’s a pirate’s life to seek treasure, to find it in dangerous places.

            Like the great, and sometimes despicable, captains of yore, who struck out for the land of milk and honey or spices or gold, or to find a continent in the name of a queen, it’s the adventure, the mystery, their curiosity that kept them going. O, aye, they set their hearts on bringing home booty, but as in any adventure, isn’t the pursuit the real treasure?

            And me point? Well, mateys, ‘tis the same for writers. Aye, our ultimate treasure is to hold a book in our hands, knowing others are reading our tale.
            But the real adventure, the treasure, is in the writing, setting forth the story that won’t be quiet. Aye, indeed, a few buccaneers need to publish for glory, but I haven’t met any of those scallywags yet. Settin’ out to write a New York Times bestseller is akin to sailin’ out to find the fountain of youth. We all desire recognition, to be knighted, but that’s external and elusive. What sets us on the writing journey is curiosity and longing, and that comes from within.
            And here’s me point (aye, I’m a long-winded bag o’ bones) for this Log:

A writer must always be searchin’, must always feel hungry, must always be dissatisfied.

Aye, it’s a sad truth. Under that beautiful calm sea is a sunken ship with barnacles and some weird strange creatures livin’ inside.
            Some writers don’t try to hide this. Some are sailin’ the seas with their freak flag wavin’ brilliantly for all to see. Hoorah!
            But most don’t. Most seem almost—dare I say it?—normal.
            Don’t be fooled, readers. Ya see, writer’s ha’ two resumes. One they use for job searches (aye, the majority of writers work another job) and one they hide. And for writers, it’s the latter they draw on for their work. Think of it this way: some writers openly sail those scary troubled waters with memoir. Every writer has a memoir in them, but many prefer the fiction world, an escape from those troubled waters.
            Here’s me advice for fishing those waters when attending a reading of one of your favorite authors. Don’ bother asking questions like “Have you ever had writer’s block?” “Where do your ideas come from?” or “Who’s your favorite author?” Yawn! They’ll just give ye the standard answer.
            Go for gold. Ask, “Ha’ ye ever been close to death?” “Ha’ ye ever taken a dark road and been lost?” “What terrifies you and why?” Tailor those questions to their work. I guarantee that will wake up the audience and the author.
            To keep ye hooked and for me to sail, in the next Captain’s Log I’ll show ye how those questions apply to me life. I’ll tell ye where I fish for my material, what me subterranean world looks like, what creepy little creatures live there and where they came from. I’ll actually answer those questions above.
            Ah, the deep is a scary place, but sunken treasure lies there.

Until then, Dear Faithful Buccaneers, I am yours,
Captain Val

Alice Hoffman talking about ghosts, the past, and explaining the world

Jennifer Egan talking about the idea of time, music, and her novel
Hotel Angeline: a Novel in 36 Voices
Coming Up! (Keep laughin’, you scallywags!)

"The Deep: Captain Val's Answers to Last Week's Questions"
"Platform, Flatform"
"A View of My Writers Room Wall: What Inspires Me"
A Giveaway! Yes, something for you, maties
... and in June! an interview with Jessica Maxwell of Roll Around Heaven