Monday, 18 February 2008

Ariel Gore’s Guide to Being a Lit Star

I’m just back from Amerikay – land of you-can-do-it positivity and supermarket sized book shops. I had a lengthy browse in Spoonbill & Sugartown in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and in Barnes & Noble and found many, many books I wanted to buy. But books are expensive and I already have about a hundred unread ones on my shelves, so I allowed myself only two. One of them, by Ariel Gore, has a gorgeous cover and a long and sort of embarrassing-to-buy title: How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead – Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights.
I have only read part one so far, but I like Gore’s style. She knows what poverty is like and she knows what success is like; she works hard and she gives realistic advice. She is the positive mentor you wish you had. This is from a section called ‘Embrace Your Genius’ where she encourages writers not to copy their writing heroes:
‘You see this vibrant and vulnerable planet in your own strange way. You draw connections that make you wonder if you’ve lost your mind. Your fears are specific.’ I always encourage my students to be true to themselves, use their own vernacular, life views etc. You can move on from that, but it’s a great place to start to find your ‘voice’ and personal obsessions.
Gore also thinks writers need boring day jobs to free up the mind-space to write. I agree with that. My first serious leap into writing happened when I had a mind-numbing sales job. After that I took on a series of literary related posts (what I thought would be ‘dream jobs’) but they turned into nightmarish scenarios of fund raising, bitchy colleagues etc. A job that leaves you time and brain-power for writing is the best kind.
For more on Gore (poetic!) see her blog at Ariel Gore


TitaniaWrites said...

welcome home! This book sounds fascinating... I have often toyed with the idea of going out and getting a mind-numbing day job. Right now, writing fiction is my day job... and, of course, it is the one thing I end up not doing! I always thought a florist's would be a lovely place to work....

Women Rule Writer said...

Thanks T,
I always thought a florist's would be cold! Yeah, writing is my day job now too. I miss only one thing about the workplace: regular pay. Maybe some adult company too, but only sometimes. I am privileged to work full time at writing, this I know. But the constant RUNNING after money I am owed really breaks my heart. Also the haggling for fees. I do wish lit fest organisers would decide what they want to pay you, then pay it. On the day. I am owed around 1500 euro in unpaid fees for work done. Infuriating.