Sunday, October 3, 2010

Contrasting Writers II

Two disparate writerly events bracketed a Saturday outing, each inspirational for seperate reasons.
First on the agenda was the family-style lunchtime launch of a quartet of youngish writers calling themselves “The Rogues Gallery Writers”. The mug-shot of Michael Ray King, Tracy McDurmon, Rebekah Hunt Scott and Jeff Swesky shows a villainous Central Casting group of Al Capone characters posed for posterity.
They are all contributors to an anthology of disparate short stories built around the book title “Writing Is Easy”, It ain't, as each of the stories explains with an explanation behind the inspiration – and a short Q&A post-script.
The premise of the book is to encourage writers of any genre or level to tweak their work into print asap – following critiques and reviews by peers.
Many feedback folk attended the launch in a tucked-away family operated “Taste of Portugal” restaurant in a (comparatively) new community of Palm Coast. The buffet-style lunch for the launch did NOT contain a single sardine, but a family helper smiled widely at the recollection of days gone by when Portuguese fishing fleets spanned the Atlantic seaboard, filling their holds with finned silver.
Book sales, signings, readings, seated around tables sharing a meal and shop-talk gossip – and the latest antics of kids – gave the launch a sense of a familial gathering far more so than most writerly events. To soon to say whether the contents live up to the promotion, but there's a taster of things to come via
Later in the day, under the lengthening live oak and Spanish moss shadows of a brief Florida twilight, art and SciFi aficionados gathered at the Bellamy Road Gallery venue in the historic community of Melrose, to hear from Joe Haldeman.
The Nebula and Hugo award winning writer of a couple of dozen books, some translated into 20-plus other languages and his opus “The Forever War” now in its 35th year of continuous publication, held forth on the links between art and writing.
His address launched a series of programs planned by the gallery, beginning with next week's “Other Worlds” opening Oct, 9.
Using slides from many book and magazine covers, some from the lurid era big-breasted, scantily clad heroines of the pulp-fiction era, he held his audience captive for an hour or more.
Each of the illustrations had a story behind it; some were the genesis of a contracted story ordered by an editor; who's arty girlfriend may have pressed to have published. Others were fought or wept over when the finished item was presented in a fiat accompli – before Joe's literary clout was taken into account.
His lynchpin work which eventually won him recognition – and a handy teaching gig at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – was rejected by 18 publishing house, he said.
Eventually printed by an empathetic publisher, the low-key, un-SciFi cover of worlds as grains of sand running through an hour-glass, fooled the critics who read the contents for its literary heft.The book eventually got rave reviews and a four-page spread in the (late) New York Times Literary Review.
Joe showed some of his working journals and, under the watchful eye of wife Gay, some of the full-frontal ladies captured in pen, ink and watercolor at art-classes he sometimes attends.
During the Q&A session the inevitable query was posed:
“What was your inspiration?”
But he didn't say whether it was a hunger of the stomach – or the soul.

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