Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shop Talk

The proverbial "Hump Day" marked a change in my week. Wednesday night, I enjoyed a reading by a former professor of a her delightful memoir titled, "Farmers Daughter: And I Can Prove It!"

Resa Willis has written many books, including two biographies under her real name: "Mark and Livy: The Love Story of Mark Twain and the Woman Who Almost Tamed Him" and "FDR and Lucy: Lovers and Friends."  However, her pseudonyms for romance and mystery have never been discovered by her students. She says she's not written those in years but with such a secret nom de plume, how are we to know?

I enjoyed being among peers and reading enthusiasts as we chuckled and laughed out loud. The exerpts were sharp, Dr. Willis' wit at it's best. Her approach to this work was about humor and the "can do" spirit necessary to achieve any dream. I haven't read it, yet, but suspect it's an Erma Bombeck type memoir instead of the pedantic trips I find so hard to finish. While thorough, pedantic was never Resa's style even in her biographies. A typical biography may be a chronological accounting of life details, but Resa uses a timeline not as a check-list but as a an outline as she explores the relationships, the behind the scenes, of Mark Twain and FDR. These are the books she wanted to be written and waited for until she realized no one else was going to write them.

In her memoir, Resa wasn't interested in recalling tragedy because this examination of home was about humor and wisdom. It's not the story of her life by rigorous timeline, but moments from an Iowa farming community meant to entertain. I was hooked and am adding it to my must buy list.

After questions, I took the opportunity to speak with the lady of the hour and a couple of other professors. Oh how I've missed talking shop with writing peers. I get much satisfaction reading certain blogs and communicating online with fellow artists, but the interaction, the give and take, of an in-person exchange was so fulfilling that I walked outside to be greeted by a short story idea. Eureka!

Resa's memoir is her first e-book. It was amazing talking through the exciting but strange world of e-publishing with a traditionally published author. We shared experiences and wonder over this next phase of the literary journey. 

I saw pride in my professors' eyes because I doggedly pursued writing a novel. It took years but that wasn't a negative--they understood. It was just as they said it would be, all their pearls of wisdom confirmed, so they nodded sagely because I had digested the simple advice that is so difficult to convey to aspiring writers. I had more than aspired--I had achieved. 

Promotion is another department--courses I never took. So I stood among people who understood that promotion is damn hard but there is one piece of advice in writing that is as true in promotion--just do it. 
Another way to say it is, don't stop. 
Or never give up. 
Keep going.

It's a mile marker and I felt a certain level of pride that I had not enjoyed, yet. There are still mountains to conquer but I have scaled the first and proven to myself that I can. Of course I can do it again! New ones! Harder ones!

Keep going, oh yes. And in the future, there will be more shop talk!