Stop Writing, Go to Author Talks

Adair Heitmann here writing to you on this Spring day about getting out of your office. As writers we need to take breaks from our writing routines. I feel lucky today. It’s not that I can smell the lilacs, nor have I been picked yet for Oprah’s Book Club or won a MacArthur Fellowship. I’m thinking about how lucky we are as writers to live in an area with a plethora of libraries, all of which host visiting authors.

Recently two very different authors came to Connecticut. The fact that I hadn’t read their books didn’t stop me from leaving my writing studio and learning from them. As writers we need to study how other writers present their material. It’s professional research. Observing how much or how little an author reveals personal information, hearing if they read a passage from their recently published books or not, hones my skills as a presenting author.

Phyllis Theroux, author of The Journal Keeper, spoke about memoir writing at Fairfield Public Library. Her focus was the art of journal writing. My literary take-away was being reminded that any life can be filled with dark parts, yet “journal writing is a place to remember where the light is.” Theroux went on to say, “The more personal your writing is the more universal your application.”

Author of Sacred Hearts, Sarah Dunant, came to neighboring Pequot Library. Dunant is really a scholar of Renaissance history wearing fiction writer’s clothing. She is passionate about her subject matter and I heard how she can still get trapped within the book she is writing. While it is a difficult place for any writer to be in, Dunant knows that she has to write her way out. If she doesn’t allow herself to be boxed in, she can’t authentically experience the resolution that her characters need to feel.

After hearing an author speak, I come back to my own essays, articles, books and blogs with a bounce in my step and a gleam in eye. Armored with new knowledge about the art and craft of writing and speaking about writing.  Until next time, after you return from an Author Talk, keep on writing.


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