Well, another Tucson Festival is in the books, you should pardon the pun. I’ll bet everyone who went can feel a few muscles–walking muscles, stair-climbing muscles, book-toting muscles, and writing muscles.
I didn’t take a lot of notes this year but would like to share a few points I found worth jotting down.
T. C. Boyle, novel and short story writer:
- Take an ordinary event, such as a man not wanting to go to work, and see how you can up the stakes, push it over the top.
Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig:
- When you can’t believe in yourself, you can believe in your animals.
- When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Sometimes it’s an animal.
- If you’re writing about animals, ask why you were attracted animals in the first place. What do you get out of your relationships with animals?
Ilie Ruby, Naomi Benaron, & Sarah McCoy – panel discussion, Capturing a Sense of Place in Fiction:
- Capture the moment when everything changes for good or ill.
- History and myth can add depth to a setting. Show what it has come to mean in people’s minds.
- Capture the voice that makes you want to write. Then just write the story.
William Pitt Root, poet and teacher:
- What do you need to be in touch with in order to write well?
Richard Russo, Margaret Coel, & Louis Bayard – panel discussion on Edgar Allan Poe:
- Remember to get to the interior life of all your characters. Villains are people. They have mothers, too.
- Everything a character experiences in a story prepares him/her to face himself/herself and the external challenge at the story’s climax.
- Read “up”–that is, read work that is better than yours is at the moment. Read like a writer. See how good writers achieve the effects that make their work excellent.
Alison Hawthorne Deming, Heid Erdrich, Ofelia Zepeda – Layers of Knowing – poetry reading & discussion:
- Efforts are being made to save indigenous languages that may contain ways of knowing that we need for survival.
- Arts improve empathy between individuals and between people of different generations.
Pam Houston, writer of fictionalized memoir (I’d recommend Sight Hound)
- Looking for something to write about? Feel around for your own emotional bruises and press on them.
- Shine the light as strongly on yourself as you do on others.
Hope there’s something useful in this potpourri of ideas.