This morning’s lecture by William Kittredge was great. Here are a few of the highlights:
He talked about his friend Ray Carver (you may have heard of him) who was a snoop and never failed to “pay attention to the world around him.”
“The medium we work in is the reader’s imagination.”
He said in college he read Eudora Welty’s “Death of a Traveling Salesman” and it stopped him in his tracks. Meaning he didn’t get it. He was baffled, so he dropped the class.
He belonged to a jock fraternity where the main activity was punching one another on the shoulder.
Sentimentality doesn’t happen in life, just in the retelling. Avoid it.
Don’t ignore your impulses, they are your strengths. Use them.
There are two types of stories: Cautionary tales and celebrations.
Get out of the way of the story.
“If you don’t write every day, at least pick up your manuscript and carry it around, so as to stay in touch.”
Conceptual stories don’t make good novels because there are no characters to take over the story.
You have to first know what the question is, then find a false answer, then find the real answer, then explore the consequences.
When a reader finishes your story, you don’t want him thinking about the story, you want him thinking about his own life.
Stories are the rafts we build and the maps we lay out on the table. (My personal favorite.)
Always strive for that slight, continuous sense of surprise.
After the lecture we had to return the yucky remains of last night’s barn reception to the kitchen, pick up things for the big reception to occur later in the day, organize all of that, race to lunch, hurry to finish workshop comments, and then race to workshops. Mine was with Ursula Hegi. She is amazing and I am so psyched about workshopping this whole week. I am ecstatic to be working with her. My whole group seems to be really astute and articulate, too. Of course by the end of the conference we will all be slightly less astute and articulate.
Unfortunately I missed the Antonya Nelson reading because I was preparing for the reception, but Cliff said her reading was amazing. The big Treman reception passed in a blur, but went very smoothly. Dinner was scrumptious–I’ve been eating all teh wonderful veggie options. Tonight was a portabello mushroom covered in breadcrumbs and baked with a nice butter sauce over top. I love the food here. Afterward I did get to hear Sally Keith read a long lyric poem and David Shields read a humorous essay from his book about living with back pain.
The waiters are having a party tonight, but I’m skipping to keep my promise and update my blog. Thanks for reading.