Worth the wait

    I’m not entirely sure yet what this story has to do with writing, but I know that it does have to do with writing in a big way.
    There are many little and big actions that renew my commitment to write every day.
      • Running/Walking
      • Yoga/Meditation
      • Getting right to it and seeing progress (as opposed to the days where I sit down to write and waste most/all of the time checking email or social media)
      • Reading great writing
      • Attending lectures/talks/readings

It’s this last one that is the main subject of this blog entry. Last Friday, I went to the Barboza Lounge in Seattle to listen to John Darnielle read from and talk about his new and first novel Wolf in White Van. John Darnielle is known for his part in the musical group The Mountain Goats, but is making his debut as a writer. I went with my husband who is a long time fan of Darnielle’s music. I hadn’t read the book in advance and I don’t know Darnielle’s music so I wondered whether I would enjoy the talk.

What Darnielle read from his book made me want to buy it and what he said about writing made me actually take out my bank card and hand it over to the man in black holding a mini iPad with one of those magic squares that have come to replace the cash register.

The stage was set up in the usual SAL style, two deep, broad-armed black leather chairs not quite facing each other. The best seats were crossed-legged on a concrete dance floor. Chris (husband) and I sat shoulder to shoulder, waiting out the thirty minutes until the show started, drinking IPA out of plastic pint glasses. All around us people sat on their cellphones, sometimes couples sitting together staring at their tiny screens, scrolling. The more I looked around the sadder I felt for how unaccustomed we’ve become as a culture with periods of waiting.

Paul Constant (Stranger Books Editor) interviewed Darnielle. As soon as Darnielle started to speak, doubt that I would enjoy the talk and sadness from watching the tech-crazed crowd turned to enthusiasm. I don’t remember everything he said about writing and in a way the particulars don’t matter. Darnielle did not hesitate and he answered every question with authority. That he loved making stories that people might be moved by was uncontestable. We listened, rapt, until the audience question part came and people started asking questions that had more to do with themselves than anything he had said in the last 45 minutes. Were they even listening?

Writing and reading contain so many periods of waiting and that is part of what I love about both. The chance to spend an evening with a good writer willing to share his own methods for navigating those periods almost always pays in droves of inspiration.


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