Watch & Listen: Authors Online via the Fairfield Writer’s Blog

My Friend Alex McNab runs a writing workshop at the Fairfield Public Library and oversees their Fairfield Writer’s Blog here in CT. His blog posts are always interesting, but his latest introduced me to something I’d like to share with you – free writing lessons from famous writers. Here’s  the beginning of what Alex had to say:

Warning: the following may be hazardous to your writing habits.

We aspiring writers who live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, are fortunate. With the center of publishing only 50 miles away in Manhattan; with vibrant public libraries and their energetic events coordinators in almost every community; with fine chain and independent bookstores within easy driving distance; and with several universities featuring creative writing programs and commitments to cultural outreach close by, we have a steady schedule of author appearances to attend for education and inspiration. As I reported in my previous post, for example, bestselling writers Dennis Lehane and Peter Abrahams shared their wisdom with us in person less than 24 hours apart. Like Western pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail arriving at Bent’s Fort, authors on the book-tour trail find our area a welcoming stopover.

But what if you cannot get to an author talk? Or if you live in a place far from that book-tour trail? How can you sit face-to-face with a National Book Award winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a bestselling crime writer, a unique-voiced memoirist? That’s why the Internet and YouTube were invented, of course.

Herewith an annotated index of a baker’s dozen links to a random sampling of author talks online. And I’m not referring to someone’s latest appearance on “Today” or “Charlie Rose.”

A caveat: I have watched only a few of these. Thus, I cannot promise you they all impart ready-to-use writing advice. Nor can I promise that these are the best available videos of each writer. My purpose is simply to show that, if you are looking for inspiring sights and sounds from one of your favorites, you may be able to find it. So here’s the list, in alphabetical order, except for Ian McEwan in the anchor-leg spot, the reason for which will be apparent.

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham. The Pulitzer Prize winner for The Hours, from the fabled Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Louise Erdrich. The new National Book Award for Fiction winner (The Road House) on Well Read.

Elizabeth Gilbert. Her famous 2009 lecture on creativity at the TED conference.

Mary Karr. The poet and memoirist (The Liar’s Club, et al.) from the Writer’s Symposium By The Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University.

You can read the rest of the list here, and please add to it if you know of other writers offering tips on video or audio.

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3 thoughts on “Watch & Listen: Authors Online via the Fairfield Writer’s Blog

  1. Thanks Gabi and Alex, for drawing my attention to the brilliant TED talk on the “elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert. A pleasure to hear. I so identified with her notion of being a “mule,” of getting up everyday to do the work, and of always trying to be in the process and cast off the anxiety about outcome. I so identified with her acknowledgment of the rare trancendent moments that come to every artist. And I so loved her image of the poet, Ruth Stone, who said she sometimes could feel and hear a poem thundering toward her over the landscape, and then she’d have to run like hell to get to a pencil and paper in order to collect it, and that sometimes she would catch it by the tail and get it down perfectly but it would come out backward on the page from the last word to the first. Such a transcendent moment came to me during my struggle to write my third novel, the one inspired by the loss of my son. Not only did I conceive the entire plot and meaning of the book in that transcendent moment, but thereafter I felt through much of the writing of the book as if I was simply channeling dialogue that already existed somewhere in the universe. I’m not a religious person, but I believe that through the creative process I transcended the boundaries of my own ego and time and space, and that this, as Ms. Gilbert suggests, is consistent with the ancients’ idea of mystical creatures who help you “take dictation from the divine.” And I also realized that I write—I have always written—because writing heals me, and connects me, and helps me make sense of life. Now I make a conscious effort to hold on to that idea that I write to heal in order to cope with the anxiety inherent within the creative process. Here’s a bit on my own transcendent experience from my blog: http://frandorf.com/?s=transcendent http://frandorf.com/?s=transcendent

  2. Thanks Gabi and Alex, for drawing my attention this afternoon to the brilliant TED talk on the “elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert. A pleasure to hear. I so identified with her notion of being a “mule,” of getting up everyday to do the work, and of always trying to be in the process and cast off the anxiety about outcome. I so identified with her acknowledgment of the rare trancendent moments that come to every artist. And I so loved her image of the poet, Ruth Stone, who said she sometimes could feel and hear a poem thundering toward her over the landscape, and then she’d have to run like hell to get to a pencil and paper in order to collect it, and that sometimes she would catch it by the tail and get it down perfectly but it would come out backward on the page from the last word to the first. Such a transcendent moment came to me during my struggle to write my third novel, the one inspired by the loss of my son. Not only did I conceive the entire plot and meaning of the book in that transcendent moment, but thereafter I felt through much of the writing of the book as if I was simply channeling dialogue that already existed somewhere in the universe. I’m not a religious person, but I believe that through the creative process I transcended the boundaries of my own ego and time and space, and that this, as Ms. Gilbert suggests, is consistent with the ancients’ idea of mystical creatures who help you “take dictation from the divine.” And I also realized that I write—I have always written—because writing heals me, and connects me, and helps me make sense of life. Now I make a conscious effort to hold on to that idea that I write to heal in order to cope with the anxiety inherent within the creative process. Here’s a bit on my own transcendent experience from my blog: http://frandorf.com/?s=transcendent http://frandorf.com/?s=transcendent

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