Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I went to an island filled with writers. This is the story...pretty much.

It all started in Key West, Florida
    an island, that to most folks looks like this

to me, it looked like this

Sure, I was there for the Key West Literary Seminar 2012 to hear all of these amazing, brilliant, stupefyingly wonderful writers speak on the subject of—wait, is stupefyingly even a word? I mean I should know, right, because I was there in the midst of all these wordsmiths and smarty pants types having my brain sucked out— I mean, enlarged. And yet?


Because on Key West, there are not only writers like those in the links least once a year. Yep.   But, there are also hipsters and freaks with strange pets riding longboards down Duval and gay bars with pools in the back, and—wait for it— killer drag shows at 9pm.
No, I'm not shitting you.

Only I would go to a writing seminar, attend an intense and eye-opening writing workshop, then come home to tell everyone about the nicest drag queen ever, Inga,
and share all the new parodies I learned from this girl.

 Sigh. You just can't take me anywhere, can you?
( be patient. I've posted a parody at the end of this soliloquy.)

But back to the writers and the real reason I was on this bizarre island—too near to Cuba.
I have finally figured out that I really, truly need a good dose of literary stuff to keep me going. Granted, most of these folks are more well schooled, better trained and larger published than moi... 
but I stick by my motto, "Fake it till you make it."

With that in mind, I spent a week skirting questions posed by twenty and thirty year old MFA'ers about denouement and alliteration, about artistic selectivity and analytical persuasion, choosing instead to pepper the conversation with questions like: Did you see who he's with? OMG, was that Margaret Atwood farting in the next stall? and, Hey, who wants to get a beer?

Okay, I'm kidding about the farting thing. But Dame Margaret was definitely there, and I most definitely danced to the oldies with Michael Cunningham, though for us it was kinda like dancing to songs from high school, and we, sadly knew all the words.

I spent four days in this totally cool chick's workshop, and loved her even more when it was over than I first did when reading about her solo travels and the story of Lupe in San Miguel. There are those times when you read something or hear a comment and think, Oh, yes, I thought the same thing.  
How wonderful to sit in the same room with someone who does that for you,
 and be able to nod at them across the room. 

There were, as in every writing getaway, a crapload of story beginnings and notes floating around on my i-pad and phone. I'll take a few days to transcribe the ones I think are worthwhile, but probably pitch the drunken musings from the bar cocktail napkin, unless anyone would be interested in a living on the fringe story about a guy who writes the lyrics to popular song parodies for drag queens, while living in his mother's basement and battling milk and sun allergies.


 So back home I came. After reminding this guy of a joke in our past
 and getting signed books by Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, Gary Shteyngart

 and my dance partner and sidewalk companion, Michael Cunningham.. and yes, I will admit,
 I told him—even though my agent said not to—that my book,
Not Waving, Drowning was called
 in a review, The Hours in Savannah. And even though I had the balls to compare my work to a Pulitzer Prize winning book, he was genuinely kind enough to chat about it.

So, until I download more of the photos and get the "ok" from my new lit pals to post their images, and tell (in code, of course) their stories.... I'll leave you with this.

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